Press release

Business boom is key to driving the Northern Powerhouse, says minister

Business leaders meet to identify investment opportunities which could further boost the economy across the Northern Powerhouse.

  • James Wharton meets with local business and civic leaders to make the case for the Northern Powerhouse as a lucrative investment opportunity
  • Almost 80% of the fastest growing stock listed companies in UK headquartered outside London
  • Manchester and Leeds among those cities leading the way

Leaders from the business community – including Sir Nigel Knowles, Global Co-Chairman of DLA Piper, and Paul Booth OBE, President and Chairman of SABIC Petrochemicals – joined forces today (23 February 2016) with James Wharton to identify investment opportunities which could further boost the economy across the Northern Powerhouse.

The minister met with chief executives and chairs of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) - bodies made up of council and local business leaders - across the North, during which he underlined how they had a crucial role to play in the government’s efforts to rebalance the economy.

The meeting followed hot on the heels of research by the London Stock Exchange group that highlighted the booming business environment in the North. It found almost 80% of the fastest growing stock listed companies in the UK were headquartered outside of London, with Manchester and Leeds among those cities leading the way.

Today delegates were examining ways to attract investment into the region from overseas. The minister is keen to highlight the potential of the Northern Powerhouse, which if it were a country it would have the 10th largest economy in the whole of Europe.

Speaking after the event, James Wharton said:

The Northern Powerhouse is neither defined by nor controlled from Whitehall. It is a locally based project in which businesses and voters decide what is best for their communities, and how money is best spent.

So far we have secured a host of devolution deals, and invested in transport, science and the arts across the region. Yet if the Northern Powerhouse were to grow at the same projected rate as the rest of the UK, it would add an extra £37 billion to our national economy by the end of the next decade.

That is why we are bringing together local leaders to discuss further investment projects to realise our potential. The Northern Powerhouse has massive potential to drive the UK’s economy, and its prospects make it a lucrative place to invest and live.

In 2014, the government signed 39 local growth deals, establishing business-led LEP boards to shape the direction of billions of pounds of devolved funding for infrastructure and skills.

LEPs are overseen by leading figures from business and industry. These local growth deals have since been extended and supplemented, providing new government funding and driving new and more ambitious investment projects.

Mr Wharton was clear the government is dedicated to rebalancing the UK’s economy, and insisted that through collaboration the Northern economy could become much more than the sum of its parts.

The government has committed to invest over £150 billion on health, £45 billion on schools and £13 billion on transport in the Northern Powerhouse over the next 5 years, as well as simplifying planning laws on commercial and residential real estate, fostering an environment where business can thrive.

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