The Northern Powerhouse is nothing new. When in 2014, the then-Chancellor, George Osbourne first talked about a promised level of investment that would ‘bring about an economic force rivalling London and the South East’, in respect of transport, science and innovation, it seemed like the blue-print for success business leaders had been waiting for. Until now however, with limited movement on the major projects, this has felt a little utopian.
So, the Chancellor’s confirmation this week of a £400m cash boost for the project, investing in significant
infrastructure improvements, is a welcome development in firing the engines of this agenda, helping to put the Northern Powerhouse firmly back in the political spotlight.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see why the South still visibly dominates our economic balance, but this balance is shifting, and rapidly.
With a GDP of over £350bn, if the Northern Powerhouse was a country, it would be the 10th biggest economy in Europe1. With proven global excellence in a raft of specialisms, from manufacturing, chemicals and aerospace to automotive, digital and financial services, the North is now named as the top investment destination in Europe.
Export continues to thrive, thanks to the close proximity of 9 international airports and 12 major foreign trading ports, so it’s easy to see why so many entrepreneurs are attracted to the region, with over 65,000 new starts recorded in 2014 alone.
The Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE)2 indicates that in 2015, Manchester and Warrington were among the top performing northern regions for new business. But, it’s not just desirable to SMEs, with a great number of big, global business names also leveraging the many benefits that the North has to offer.
With a successful business headquartered in a core powerhouse region, it feels like an exciting time. And contrary to belief, it’s really not grim up-North.