Although Birmingham is still the second-largest city in the UK, Manchester has very definitely taken front and centre stage in the Northern Powerhouse initiative and its economy is now very clearly “powering” forward.
A walk through Manchester city centre shows just how far the city has come since the days of misery in the 1980s. Now, the local authorities are eager to see the benefits of this continue to roll out to the Greater Manchester area.
The Local Industrial Strategy will build upon solid foundations
Bolton, Rochdale and Wigan were all once hubs of manufacturing, which, like Manchester, went through a period of decline and which, like Manchester, have all emerged stronger than before. These local industrial hubs have since been joined by the Trafford Park area.
While the nature of the industry has changed somewhat over the years, with much of the old “heavy” manufacturing industries being replaced by modern “digital” industries, many of the underlying attractions of these areas remain the same.
They all have everything modern companies need to succeed, including access to a workforce with both breadth and depth of talent, excellent infrastructure (both physical and digital) and great transport links to other parts of the UK and beyond. These transport links are improving all the time, notable expansions include the development of Port Salford and, of course, the imminent arrival of HS2. While this will directly service Manchester itself rather than the local communities in Greater Manchester, it will be very easily accessible and hence will benefit them too.
Bolton could be the new Salford
Right now, Salford is arguably the biggest success story in the Greater Manchester area. It has completely pulled itself out of its post-industrial slump and emerged as one of the brightest and ‘buzziest’ parts not just of Greater Manchester, but of the UK as a whole.
Bolton does not, yet, have its glamour, however, it already has a great deal to offer and its prospects are only set to improve, in no small part thanks to a £1 billion regeneration scheme, which is expected to create thousands of new jobs and hence create the requirement for new infrastructure to support the people who are expected to arrive to fill them, in particular, of course, sufficient new homes.
Bolton is also, quite literally, at the centre of the Great North Rail project and, in particular, is set to benefit from a substantial upgrade to the Preston to Manchester line. The key point here is that this upgrade will speed up the journey time into Manchester itself, which will not only make it easier for employers in Bolton to tap into Manchester’s highly-skilled workforce and so, for example, make it more attractive to freelancers to make the commute, it will also make it easier for people from Bolton to make the trip into Manchester and then, if necessary beyond, whether that be via train or via Manchester airport, which already serves over 200 destinations in Europe and beyond, including a range of direct flights to Asia and the Far East.
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