Last year, England’s north west saw 98 foreign direct investment projects, the largest number in a decade, with 54 of them going straight into Manchester, the latest Attractiveness Survey by EY UK revealed.
Manchester has experienced some significant growth when it comes to foreign investment, coming in at an impressive second place in the UK, only behind London, the Attractiveness Survey showed.
In 2014, the year before, the north west only had a total of 45 FDI projects, making last year’s investment interest an increase of 118%.
Additionally, the number of jobs that come with those investment has drastically increased, too. In the last two years, 4,026 jobs were created, an increase of 190%.
Simon Allport, north west senior partner at EY said: “These figures show that the international investment community has seen the potential in the North West with its access to the right skills, infrastructure and strong supply chain networks.”
Particularly strong growing areas in the north west were within the software, business services, construction and retail sectors. Amazon, ALDI Group and HGS Europe were some of the biggest FDI projects in the region, introducing 40% of the recorded jobs.
While the US was the frontrunner in investment for all of the UK, for the north west, the next most important sources of investment were the Netherlands, Germany and France.
Foreign investors mainly choose the north west because of the availability of the local workforce (27%) and access to good transport infrastructure (26%).
Mr Allport said: “Getting the right infrastructure programmes in place is essential, especially in relation to the Northern Powerhouse. Improving the road and air network, building on the North’s relative strengths in ports, are areas that will boost further foreign investment. This makes projects such as HS3, or Northern Powerhouse Rail as it was referred to in the March 2016 Budget, all the more essential.”
The capital is still dominating in terms of investors’ perception, however the report by EY also shows a very welcomed rebalancing of the UK’s FDI projects away from London and more towards the regions.
Those international investors who are aware of devolution show a broad interest. Overall only 38% were actively aware of the process, meaning there is still a lot of work to do to promote the Northern Powerhouse and all of its advantages.
EY’s chief economist Mark Gregory said: “The Northern Powerhouse is making people more aware of Manchester as a city and Manchester registers with people as the UK’s second city now, which hasn’t always been the case.”
The appeal and brand awareness that Manchester, which has only recently been named residential investment hotspot of the decade, offers also stems from its football team, its sector expertise and talent pool.
Gregory said: “Across Europe, FDI was up with capital coming back to the developed world and seems to be heading to places where there is a robust economic outlook and Manchester is benefiting from that.”
“It’s got strong appeal as a city and the last couple of years have been very good.”
“It’s pull comes from sector strengths, including its technology, digital and software clusters where particularly young people want to work in and so Manchester has a strong appeal there.”
“Business services is also strong, and we’ve seen financial services investment begin to come back.”