The buzz words ‘Northern Powerhouse’ are tripping off political tongues like wax from a candle. But regional northern businesses need to be alert to what Northern Powerhouse means and how they can ‘cash in’ when the light switch is turned on. Adrian Tattersley, Commercial lawyer with West Yorkshire law firm Brearleys shines a light on the potential implications for local businesses.
It was about a year ago prominence to the phrase “Northern Powerhouse” was first given. Since then the general election has been and gone, a Government Minister for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ appointed and the media enthuses about the prospect of a Klondike like rush to the north. But what is the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and what might it do for businesses in the region?
The Northern Powerhouse is a concept to redress the north-south economic imbalance with the intention of attracting investment to northern cities and towns. However, current hype appears to focus mainly on principle cities such as Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle with scant mention of the likes of Huddersfield, Bradford and Wakefield let alone regional towns and areas with a history of good production and strong work ethics. For the Northern Powerhouse to succeed investment must be distributed far and wide across ‘the north’ and with fairness to avoid a Klondike rush to northern cities making only a few wealthy and ultimately leaving surrounding impoverished local towns.
Region wide, fair investment will not come to the towns ‘as of right’ – it will have to be earned. Towns and regions will have to prove their abilities for production and regeneration; that they can make a huge return on investment equal to if not greater than regional cities. Topics such as the lack of a cross country high speed rail link should be no bar; instead we should demonstrate our resolve by utilising to the full existing infrastructure.
So what can local businesses and forums do to try to attract both attention for and investment to our towns and ‘grass roots’ businesses?
One thought is local businesses banding together to create one united voice promoting our towns and regions; stimulating imagination; promoting regional strengths, demonstrating a ‘can do’ capability with sustainable growth; one voice to captivate investors and capture investment; one voice to attract investment to grass roots businesses so they can produce more – more products, more services, more jobs, more prospects.
The Northern Powerhouse is potentially one of the greatest concepts for our towns and local businesses in more than a generation but we all need to ‘seize the day’ or, just like the 3 year Klondike gold rush, only some will benefit and the rest will be in vain.