The talent pool in Manchester is driving the city’s economic growth and attracting investment.

That was the message from the leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese at a private dinner hosted by Downtown in Business this week held at the Lowry Hotel, and sponsored by Braemar Estates.

Leese told an audience of business leaders

“The construction boom in the city is really impressive. We have more than 60 cranes in the city centre alone – and there are another twenty-odd out at Airport City. That’s more than we ever had pre the economic crash of 2007.

“I think this demonstrates that Manchester has become a city where people want to work, live and invest – and the good news is that the investment we are attracting, the jobs that are being created, are in the industry sectors of the future.

“We have, for the first time, seen more tech and digital jobs created over the professional and financial services sector, which came in second in the latest set of official statistics.

“Jaguar Land Rover have brought their R&D team here. GCHQ are coming here – though I can’t tell you where! Despite the prospect of Brexit, we have attracted investment from a major Dutch/German owned company in the tech sector.

“The reason this is happening? The talent pool here is better than anywhere else. Manchester is attracting and retaining young professionals with the skills set modern businesses require, and that is helped and supported enormously by our fantastic Universities.”

The Manchester boss acknowledged that despite economic growth, challenges remain

“We have to address the inequalities that still exist in our communities. We are starting an ambitious house building programme that will provide our residents with a good place to live. And there is a problem with worklessness and skills in our over-50’s population.

“I am confident that, as we get more devolved powers, and we get the resources to tackle these issues, we will do so successfully.”

Asked why Manchester had been elevated to the status of ‘second city’ – a phrase he never uses and actually hates – Sir Richard recalled a visit to a Birmingham school several years ago.

“Our talent pool, our attitude, our ability to just get on and do things ourselves without waiting for permission are the key attributes of Manchester.

“But, perhaps what sums us up as well as anything is a poster that children from a Birmingham school were asked to design to say what they thought about Mancunians says it best.

“The poster they created read “We’re Manchester. If you don’t like us, Fuck Off.”