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Harnessing the Northern Powerhouse

As the countdown to the Greater Manchester Fastest 50 2015 continues, Ward Hadaway managing partner Jamie Martin looks at the influence the Northern Powerhouse agenda could have on the region's companies.

WHILST it didn’t go under the same name, the Northern Powerhouse was very much on the agenda at the inaugural Greater Manchester Fastest 50 Awards last year.

Not only did the event highlight the tremendous work being done by companies, right across the region, to grow their businesses and create jobs and prosperity, but our guest speaker, Ed Cox of think tank IPPR North, made some very pertinent points about developing the North’s considerable economic potential.

Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin, managing partner at Ward Hadaway.

Just under a year later and the Northern Powerhouse concept of improving links between the North’s great cities and working together to collectively boost the region’s economy is firmly on the agenda of all the main political parties.

There is much to celebrate already in Greater Manchester – not least the efforts of those companies that make up this year’s Greater Manchester Fastest 50 and whose names will be revealed next month.

Elsewhere we have seen; more than 2,000 jobs created in Manchester the first half of the current financial year, Manchester Airport returning record passenger numbers and announcing new routes almost every month, a £235m national advanced materials centre being set up at Manchester University and the continued growth of the region’s burgeoning creative industries.

However, it would be wrong to assume that everything is now set fair.

For example, whilst the Chancellor talked enthusiastically in his Autumn Statement about the benefits of the HS2 high speed link, there was little mention of improving connections right across the cities of the North – something of vital importance to harnessing the true economic potential of the region.

News that the ‘new trains’ on the current TransPennine route that takes passengers from the North West to the North East were in fact old trains from the Thameslink line in the South was perhaps the perfect illustration that in terms of Government priorities, we still lag some way behind London and its environs.

I also see a danger in a narrowing of the Northern Powerhouse agenda. Whilst the recent focus on Greater Manchester and devolved powers coming to the region are of course very welcome, there is a danger that politicians may think it is now ‘job done’ when it is actually only the start of the process.

As a Northern law firm for national business with offices in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle (the only Top 100 law firm with that strategic focus) we are fortunate to work with talented, determined businesses across the North every day.

I am convinced that it is only by harnessing and building on the capabilities and commitment of companies and people throughout the North that we can truly become a Northern Powerhouse.

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