FBE panel debates prospects for Manchester

Around 100 people gathered to hear an expert panel of speakers offer their predictions about the sectors that will lead the recovery at a Question Time-style event organised by the Forum for the Built Environment Manchester this week.

The panellists were:

  • Mike Emmerich, chief executive, New Economy Manchester
  • Mike Blackburn, chairman of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Eamonn Boylan, chief executive, Stockport Council
  • Stewart Bonnette, operations director, Tender Management Consultancy
  • Warren Percival, director of RSK and chairman of FBE Manchester

Mike Emmerich of New Economy, a policy think tank within the Manchester family of organisations led by the local authorities, presented on the Greater Manchester economy and said there were more than 90,000 extra jobs anticipated to be created over the next 10 years in the sub-region. Growth is particularly anticipated in the financial and professional services, life sciences, cultural and creative, digital media, education, advanced engineering and manufacturing, tourism and sport sectors.

Executing Greater Manchester's long-term strategy was critical to ensuring that growth is sustainable, Emmerich said. The National Graphene Instutute was one example of how Manchester could turn itself from a "rainy city to a brainy city".

Stockport's Eamonn Boylan was asked how the borough is weathering the storm and making the most of its opportunities. He said he was optimistic about Stockport's future but also realistic. The inter-dependence between Manchester and its satellite towns was important both in terms of synergy and competition. The Grand Central scheme, now renamed Stockport Exchange, with Muse Developments, which the council invested in heavily, was a good opportunity for Stockport to reposition itself and to make the most of the links with Manchester and London which haven't been grasped before, he added.

The panel was asked what the future was for Manchester. Panellists asserted that the key lay in greater internationalisation, continued investment in public transport, sticking with what we're good at, and building on advanced engineering strengths.

Panellists agreed Manchester was well positioned, had a strong business community and knew how to tap into available government funding to boost investment programmes.

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