The Northern Powerhouse is a government initiative aiming to turn the North’s major cities “into a collective force that could begin to rival that of London and the South East”. Manchester – often called the ‘second city’ – has received much of the focus so far, with its own elected Mayor since 2017, and more power over local budgets.
London might be the capital city, but the North as a region already has a higher GDP than many European countries, including Norway, Sweden and Belgium, according to Eurostat. For many northern businesses, this is the first time the region has been recognised for its growth potential, and they’re in a great position to benefit from it.
Transport to drastically improve throughout the north
The government announced £13 million in transport investment. Devolution means northern Mayors can access more funding, which will be shared to upgrade the A1 between Newcastle and London, reduce train journeys between Manchester and Leeds by 15 minutes, and upgrade a South Yorkshire section of the M1 to a smart motorway.
Improved local infrastructure makes commuting easier and broadens the areas small businesses can hire from. Londoners commute much further distances because they have the infrastructure to support it. Annually over 500,000 London commuters travel over 30km to work, double the distance the average northern commuter travelled. With smarter motorways and faster trains, small businesses in major northern cities will find it easier to attract talent from their neighbours, and vice versa.
More funding and investment means more business for all types of small businesses
The government is providing £400m in funding for digital businesses across the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber, and Tees Valley through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. These kinds of businesses get much of the focus, but this has a knock-on effect on other businesses that cater to their staff and a rapidly growing local population.
Manchester’s restaurant and bar scene has developed to include renowned suburban hotspots as well as a busy city centre, and it’s partly attributed to the city becoming the centre of many industries and careers over the last decade. Development and regeneration has led to the start of a “London exodus”, with thousands leaving the capital for job opportunities and cheaper living in the North. This group could be a major part of your customer base, and they’re moving in their thousands.
The North now, London later
Manchester’s Junkyard Golf Club opened its first London site 2 years ago after establishing itself in the North first. Beginning as a pop-up in an old warehouse, they improved their Manchester site to solidify their presence in the North before they considered moving South. They’re not keeping all the business to themselves either. Co-founder Chris Legh thinks “we’re…dragging a few thousand (here) each week who then spend in other spaces”, so it’s great news for neighbouring businesses too.
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