Northern Powerhouse: Does each city in the North have what it takes to work together and attract would-be Investors?

I envisaged the Northern Powerhouse as a huge industrial site pumping life and energy into the economy of the North. Technically it’s not an actual physical thing but more of a scheme to bring the Northern cities of the UK together. The promise of a ‘powerhouse’ North is something to look forward to especially for developing businesses and creating new occupational opportunities. All cities are growing and dynamic environments, so it makes sense that they are never going to be ‘perfectly finished’. The creation of great cities is a significant infrastructure challenge that the Northern Powerhouse is about to take on.

The strategies implemented for the Northern Powerhouse need to meet the requirements of the individual cities involved as well as be sustainable. A good economic strategy in place for Manchester, Liverpool and beyond has the potential to attract investment into the regions thus attracting and developing businesses. At the moment it all seems easier said than done. Manchester is not going to become the financial capital tomorrow, neither will Leeds or Hull, but that is not an issue as these cities have their own characteristics and competitive advantages which should be developed to help businesses grow. The Northern Powerhouse should be about supporting and developing what we have in the North, instead of trying to create something that the North isn’t – a London mark two.

Not only should the businesses of these cities be ready for growth but also the people of the city need to be ready to benefit from it. The social structure across the North varies, making it important that the people of the North directly benefit from the Northern Powerhouse to help achieve smart growth across the Northern economy. Once the cities of the North know what they want to be known for, it makes it much easier to sell the idea to investors; the people of the North are key in selling their city’s ideals and characteristics.

The positive changes and promises that have been received in the North are creating a huge buzz. However, the reality can sometimes be different. Resources need to be managed effectively and most importantly the idea needs to be accepted by the majority to make it happen. It is the leaders who will continue to drive the idea of the Northern Powerhouse and get people on board.

The vision for a greater North needs to be consistent and believable and at the moment it sounds like an amazing plan; but not everyone is so convinced. Professor of Healthcare Management Naomi Chambers recently spoke out at a Turnaround Management Association debate regarding the Powerhouse. She suggested there are other priories for the cities of the North instead of the Powerhouse, such as healthcare funding and educational attainment. She had a strong point that I think most people will agree with; the time has now come to funnel the blue-sky thinking into something more concrete. The Northern Powerhouse idea needs to be resilient and show that fast, positive and viable results are possible for the change to be accepted.

Each city of the North is unique in its own right, with each city having its own competitive edge and potential that needs developing. Only by recognising them first as individual strengths are they able to join forces to make the Northern Powerhouse influential and sustainable.

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Jun 22, 2015