Renewing a city - the British model

Clydebank is a run-down suburban Scottish town across the River Clyde from Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. The factories of Clydebank, which once ran three shifts a day to produce sewing machines and ocean liners, are silent.

Now Britain's pilot program making Clydebank an urban enterprise zone aims to set the town back on the road to industrial and commerical success. The Clydebank enterprise zone, one of 11 in Britain, has caught the watchful eye of US political leaders. President Reagan has embraced a similar program for American cities.

The zone's 590 acres (490 in Clydebank and 100 in adjoining Glasgow) of decaying, deserted industrial property has been taken over by the Scottish Development Agency.

Stuart Gulliver, general manager of the Clydebank Enterprise Zone, says the area already has been favorably affected.

''We already have 74 companies set up in Clydebank, most of them small, within the past 15 months, and they have a potential of 864 new jobs,'' he says.

These quick changes were possible, he says, because the agency began planning a year before Clydebank officially became an enterprise zone on Aug. 3, 1981.

In the years after World War II, Clydebank boasted a vast 86-acre Singer Sewing Machine Company plant bustling with 18,000 workers and the John Brown shipyards that built giant ocean liners - including the three Queens: Mary, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth II. Today John Brown hires only 1,600. Singer is gone, closing its gates in 1979, and more than 20 percent of Clydebank's work force is unemployed.

Gulliver says the zone will raise this town of 54,000 out of the ashes by:

* Diversifying the economy. ''Singer did it all. When Singer closed, so did Clydebank.''

* Developing small businesses. ''Major enterprises take time. We are making early progress with small firms because they can set up much more quickly than large enterprises.''

* Offering incentives to investors. Clydebank lures developers with grants for setting up, including 22 percent of machinery costs, exemption of rates (city taxes except for water), selective financial assistance, and ''soft'' loans.

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