Focus on: Manchester
Manchester – known affectionately as the Warehouse City – is a fast-growing metropolis that has undergone extended regeneration over recent decades, to successfully become one of the best locations in the UK to run a business.
Manchester is a creative and modern city with roots in industry that have been established over hundreds of years, and is said to be the largest and fastest growing centre for financial, professional and legal services outside of London.
Fuelling the successful hub for commerce is the internationally renowned educational strength of the city. The University of Manchester is the largest single site university in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. Part of the same institution is the Manchester Business School – the MBA programme of which is currently ranked fifth in the world by the respected business title Forbes.
The Manchester Business School (MBS) itself has been ranked the 7th best business school for career progress in 2009 by the Financial Times. The school offered the UK’s first MBA course in 1965, and current statistics show that 95% of students who have graduated from Manchester Business School with an MBA found employment within three months of graduation. Furthermore, last year’s MBA graduates obtained an average starting salary of ┬ú64,927.
Where employment in the North-West is concerned, Manchester Business School is well-placed to action change in the city’s job-seeking sector.
Between May 2008 and 2009 the number of people in Greater Manchester claiming Job Seekers Allowance increased by 80.7%. To tackle this rising problem, a joint venture between Manchester Business School, the University of Manchester and Corridor Manchester obtained ┬ú500,000 of funding from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund.
Dr Michael Hartmann, chief external officer at Manchester Business School, is part of the team aiming to boost employment in the North-West and improve the skill-set of the region’s workforce. He says:
“The funding will support five programmes that will give those looking to re-train, up-skill, secure a new job, establish a portfolio career – or even start their own business – the opportunity to boost their careers. North West businesses will also benefit from access to a pool of highly skilled employees.”
Ongoing plans are also in place to improve and maintain excellence within the city. Aided by the Commonwealth Games, as part of a massive regeneration plan Manchester is now benefitting from recent developments which have converted many old cotton mills into modern, functional offices, commercial spaces, and apartments. Parts of the city dating from the 1960s have also been redeveloped and modernised to make way for commercial and leisure activity.
Ranked by Cushman & Wakefield as the second-best city to do business in 2007 and 2008, Manchester’s thriving business community occupies office space all over the city. Figures from officebroker.com for the first two quarters of 2009 show that Manchester has experienced slightly lower office space enquiries than the same period last year. However, the drop is compensated by a strong performance in office lettings. The majority of 2009’s second quarter produced a higher number of lettings than the year before, which suggests that instead of a slow-down in the market, more serious enquiries are being generated which is leading to an increased number of lettings for 2009.
According to Drivers Jonas, key locations of office space transactions that have taken place in Manchester this year include the Spinningfields region, Piccadilly Place, The Exchange, and The Hive – a joint venture between Manchester City Council and Argent in the Northern Quarter. In addition, Salford’s MediaCityUK continues to draw interest from prospective media and digital companies, and has already attracted departments from the BBC, among other companies.
Where investment is concerned, Manchester is well-placed to attract investors from the UK as well as internationally. In fact, in the current economy, the weak pound is contributing to a surge in foreign investment for UK cities, which places many in a positive position for emergence from the recession.
According to a report by UK Invest featuring Simon Allport of Ernst & Young:
“International investors, particularly those in the finance and business services industries that already have operations in London, are increasingly considering secondary locations outside the capital, which is good news for the region.”
Further aiding the potential for international investment are huge expansion plans for Manchester Airport. According to a report by UK Trade & Investment, a recent MIPIM summit declared that airport bosses are looking to expand the amount of flights from Manchester, to incorporate more routes to the US and the Far East. The report states that this would be “vital to the region’s economic success”, adding that “Inward investment is directly linked to long-haul air routes.”
Among the cities being targeted are Los Angeles, Boston and Miami in the US, along with Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Plans to build a new Airport City have also been put forward, which would include retail, leisure, conference and commercial space.