A new economic report commissioned by Coastal West Sussex Partnership reveals many local businesses have proved resilient in the face of tough economic conditions – but there are worrying signs of fragility.
With the impact of Brexit, Covid-19 lockdowns, war in Ukraine and now a cost-of-living crisis, times have been tough for local business, especially those in accommodation and food service, arts, entertainment and leisure, and transport and storage, all of which lost significant value.
According to the report, the positive news is human health and residential care, real estate, and information and communications have all held up well economically.
The Coastal West Sussex economy, worth £10.45 billion, shrank proportionally less in real terms than across England as a whole, strengthened by a buoyant Worthing. One of the south east’s top performing economies, Worthing has seen 8.9% growth in nominal terms and 1.4% in real terms, and it had the highest business birth rate in the region.
Worthing has carved out a significant niche for itself in the video production industry and is growing as a focal point for the wider creative sector.
Caroline Wood, Director of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership Board, said: “It’s wonderful to see productivity so high in Worthing. But we’re working hard to shore up the future across the whole region, which runs from Selsey and Chichester in the west, through to Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing and Shoreham, and the borders of Brighton & Hove in the east.
“For example, Coastal West Sussex Partnership is in talks with landowners, local authorities and film studios to develop our Coastal Creative Technologies project – a large-scale film studio complex with an integrated centre for research, training and innovation, which will further boost this burgeoning sector.
“We believe more needs to be done to support business growth, upskill the local workforce, especially the over-65s who make up a significant chunk of the population, and to capitalise on West Sussex’s entrepreneurial spirit.”