By Yusra Barmaz
As ZEDRA moves its offices in the North West to Knutsford, Cheshire, this week, now more than ever is the time to do business in Manchester.
Manchester and the surrounding towns and cities of North West England are at the centre of the Northern Powerhouse – the UK government’s plan to try to refocus businesses away from automatically turning to London.
The Northern Powerhouse centres on the core cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. Together they have a population of more than 15 million and an economy worth nearly £350 billion. Improvements to transport links and investment in science and innovation are planned including a new cross-country fast rail link bringing them closer together.
But being at the forefront of business is nothing new for Manchester and the North West. More than 200 years ago it was at the centre of the industrial revolution thanks to the boom in textile manufacture. Over the 19th century it grew at an outstanding rate. In the Victorian era, it was the great industrial city of the north – much of the imposing architecture of the period remains today.
Since the 1990s Manchester and the surrounding area has established itself as the second city in England. It has prospered as a centre for business: Adidas, Siemens and Google all have operations in Manchester as does the BBC with its new base at Salford Quays.
The population of Greater Manchester is about 530,000 and it is at the centre of the UK’s second most populous area after London with a population of 2.8 million. The North West is also a centre of excellence for academia, offering a supply of graduates from top universities for businesses. These institutions include the world-renowned University of Manchester where in 1948, the first programmable computer known as SSEM or ‘baby’ was created – and in 2004 where the discovery of graphene resulted in a Nobel Prize for two of the university’s professors.
“Manchester and the North West are innovating and leading the next growth phase for the area along with the businesses which have bases there” says Gary Collins, local Managing Director for ZEDRA, Cheshire. For those with businesses and careers in the North West, the cost of living is far lower than in London. The typical North West house price according to Nationwide was £156,954 in the first quarter of 2018 compared with £473,776 in the capital. Manchester and the North West offer a great lifestyle with world-renowned music and arts venues as well as some rather famous football teams. But you can get away from the hubbub easily to the nearby Peak District or Lake District.
For businesses too, Manchester and its environs offer an attractive base: overheads are lower and there’s a keen, qualified workforce nearby. And improved train links mean that London is only two hours away. Sue Wakefield, ZEDRA Trust Director, said: “This region is an exciting, vibrant place to do business. Manchester is a forward-looking, world-class city and one which ZEDRA is proud to support from its new office”.