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 on 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.
On 23 February 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 £37bn 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.”