MIPIM 2023 | Local authorities make case for Cannes expo
More than 23,000 property professionals and government officials from 90 countries will be at the conference – among them senior officials from Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.
MIPIM is one of the world’s largest property conferences and is known for pulling in thousands of investors. This year, MIPIM organiser RX France estimates that investors will make up a quarter of attendees.
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Those investors are the prime reason MIPIM is on the calendar for local authorities. After years of austerity, those unwilling to put all their eggs in the next government funding basket need to look elsewhere to bring in the cash needed for large-scale regeneration schemes.
That is one of the chief reasons Paul Dennett will be at MIPIM. Dennett, who will be wearing two hats at MIPIM as deputy mayor of Greater Manchester and Mayor of Salford, emphasised that attending MIPIM was about finding partners who can actually bring about ‘levelling up’.
“The North of the country has not seen the investment that, in my opinion, it rightly deserves,” Dennett told Place North West. “So, we’ve had to engage proactively with the international investment community.”
He added later: “Being in that space to try and influence and work with like-minded people that share our values, our vision, and our ambition with Greater Manchester is really, really important.”
It is important, he said, because of the impact this could have on tackling poverty and inequality.
“The best antidote to poverty and inequality is a decently paid, secure job,” Dennett said. “To deliver that, we need people to come work with us, create opportunities, and invest here.”
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram echoed Dennett’s sentiment.
“MIPIM is an opportunity to speak to lots of people and to sell the city region to the world,” Rotheram told Place.
“We have to stop waiting for people to come and knock on our door and we have to go out there and be bold about what we’re trying to achieve as a city region,” he continued.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority chief executive Eamonn Boylan described MIPIM as “a significant event for us to promote the international competitiveness of the region.
“MIPIM is about putting Greater Manchester on a global stage,” he said.
Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney was keen to point out that Manchester’s attendance at MIPIM is funded through the private sector.
Roney also said there is a “ruthlessly clear mission” for Greater Manchester in going to MIPIM.
“The rationale for us to go there is we are selling the opportunities in the city globally to investors and other developers and businesses who are looking to do investment,” she said.
A learning experience
Roney has a second reason for going to MIPIM – learning from others.
“I think, whilst we have plans and arrangements in Manchester, I personally find it really useful to learn from other places to share our ideas and to look to see what’s being done in other cities – particularly around transport,” she said.
Caroline Simpson, chief executive of Stockport Council, voiced a similar goal. Like Roney, she’ll be at MIPIM selling the investment opportunities in her community, but she also is hoping to glean information on how other areas are forming net zero town centres.
“We’re really keen to explore what others are doing internationally and how we can bring those ideas and investments into Stockport,” Simpson said.
Is it worth it?
Measuring the success of a MIPIM trip is tricky, the local authorities said. While it is possible for deals to be done at MIPIM, generally the event is about forging new connections – with the success measured by the deals done afterwards.
“A successful MIPIM looks like a lot of engaged conversations and contacts made,” is how Boylan put it.
Alison McKenzie-Folan, chief executive of Wigan Council, agreed. “The main thing will be developing those deeper conversations,” she said of MIPIM, adding that ultimately she hopes those to end in either a formal partnership.
Dennett echoed both Boylan and McKenzie-Folan, adding another element.
“For me, it’s about how we communicate Greater Manchester on a global stage,” he said.” This is about positioning Greater Manchester to tell the world about what goes on here with a view to encouraging them to come spend money with us and support the local economy.”
For Roney, MIPIM 2023 was a success long before she stepped foot on French soil. Her goal is to showcase how Manchester is evolving and to rev up excitement for its pipeline of activity. Her packed MIPIM diary is borderline mission accomplished, in her book.
“I think what’s successful for me is when we have joint presentations with European cities and global investors that are interested in helping us design businesses and places for the future,” Roney said.
“I think it’s successful when we can go to a global audience and launch things like Factory International and Co-Op Live, which are increasing our offer in Manchester as a global city and destination.”
What’s on the investment menu?
Rotheram hopes to interest investors in a wealth of projects in Liverpool City Region and has a large prospectus lined up. The list includes the net zero office Hemisphere in Liverpool, the largescale industrial scheme Parkside in St Helens, the 13,360-home Left Bank in Wirral, and green energy Mersey Tidal Power Project.
If they could all be greenlit, Rotheram estimated those schemes could create 44,000 jobs and £42bn worth of economic growth.
“It’s really, really significant stuff,” he said.
Boylan’s priorities in Greater Manchester will range from the expansion of Manchester Airport to the multi-billion-pound Salford Innovation Triangle. The 12,000-home Wigan and Bolton Growth Corridor will also get some love, while the skyscrapers of Great Jackson Street will be sure to be mentioned.
Atom Valley will be one of the main focuses for Boylan. The mayoral development zone that includes parts of Rochdale and Bury is earmarked for 17m sq ft of employment space and 7,000 homes. The goal is for it to become a hub for manufacturing innovation.
“We’re clear that we see a real potential for Atom Valley for being a place we can capture and commercialise the research excellence of our universities in a way we haven’t before,” Boylan said.
McKenzie-Folan aims to showcase the £135m Galleries redevelopment, which began with the council taking ownership of the Galleries shopping centre.
Working alongside Cityheart and BCEGI, the council is now in the middle of redesigning Wigan town centre to have a new market, a hotel, creative spaces, food and beverage offering, and apartments.
“How we are using our assets to really change the face of the town centre is one thing we really like to showcase,” McKenzie-Folan said.
For her part, Simpson has a range of brownfield sites she plans to showcase at MIPIM. She also wants to put a spotlight on the borough’s ambitious £250m Stockport 8 plans for 1,200 homes.
There could be big news looming for MIPIM week too. Manchester’s Roney said she hoped that central government’s budget announcement on Wednesday could mean more good news to shout about at MIPIM.
“We may be able to announce maybe some successful news around Manchester’s next wave of devolution if that’s agreed to in the budget,” she said. “That’s particularly important to us for our plans for innovation and net zero work.”
One big jolly?
All the local authorities Place spoke to acknowledged that the optics of going to the South of France does make it look like MIPIM is a bit of a vacation.
But that could not be further from the truth, according to GMCA’s Boylan.
“If anyone thinks you get a relaxing time working on the Manchester stand in you have another thing coming,” Boylan said. “It’s bloody hard work.”
Salford’s Dennett agreed.
“I’ve seen the calendar. It’s going to be very intensive out in MIPIM,” Dennett said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. That’s the only reason I’m going. That’s the only reason we should be going.”
In Rotheram’s case, the Liverpool City Region Mayor is less enthusiastic about MIPIM’s location because he hates flying. But at the end of the day, he said he would go to MIPIM wherever it was.
“I’d go if it was in Blackpool. I’d go if it was in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield – doesn’t matter for me wherever it is,” he said.
“The important thing is whether we get something out of MIPIM – not necessarily where it is based.”
Stockport’s Simpson felt similarly, saying that she wished it would take place in Manchester but that she had to go where the people were.
“That critical mass of innovators, developers, investors gives you an opportunity that you don’t get – particularly with the busy lives that we lead,” she said. “MIPIM is worth that investment of time, providing we really make it work to make it worthwhile.”
The importance of making every moment at MIPIM count is not lost on Wigan’s McKenzie-Folan either.
“It’s really important to utilise every minute to do that networking, make those connections, and develop those deeper conversations for outside of MIPIM,” she said.
McKenzie-Folan continued: “If we’re really serious about levelling up, about the North-South divide, about our infrastructure, about active travel, about investment in our towns and investment in our places – then you do need to have that dedicated time.”
Place North West MIPIM 2023 coverage is sponsored by Together.
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