24 August 2016

manchester skylineI was delighted to read recently that Manchester has retained its crown as the number one city to live in the UK. Placing 43rd in the global list, Manchester sat well above our capital city which reached 53rd.

So why is it such an amazing city?

I think it comes down the huge list of benefits that Manchester has over the rest of the country. Firstly, it is a bit cheaper to live here, to buy property and to run a business here. Plus, the transport links are extraordinary with the international airport, motorways and reasonably central location.

Of course, we’ve also got to look at the sporting culture. Alongside two top-tier football teams, there are Sale Sharks, the Velodrome and Sports City – and not forgetting that if Manchester was a country in its own right it would have placed 4th in the Rio Olympics medals table!

It is also clear to see that Manchester is fast becoming the centre of innovation in the UK.

This is in no small part down to the fact that Manchester has one of the, if not the, most forward-thinking councils in the country. I hesitate to call them council leaders because they’re so business-minded. They understand how a city needs to operate. They have engaged with the businesses that are creating jobs, they are accessible and they’ve gone all over the world to see what is best practice.

Our council has turned what was 25 years ago an industrial, aged, worn city, into a thriving economic tech bed and, if you think about it, now we have so many data centres here, a huge tech community being built and it’s just the beginning.

Whilst many people say we need international brands to move to Manchester, like Google or Microsoft, I believe that it is the small businesses that have the greatest impact, that drive innovation and that collaborate for the better of the community. These SMEs and startups have done an extraordinary job of driving our city so far.

Manchester is – and for a long time has been – an incubator for these amazing businesses. You only have to look over the past few years to see and incredible list of enterprising people who are shaping our city; Tim Bacon revolutionising the restaurant and bar industry in the city and Jeremy Roberts continuing that legacy; Mike Ingall’s Spinningfields transformation is incredible; Tom Bloxham, who created the really cool apartments that really world class apartments, whilst he creates them all over the UK, he has invested huge amounts of his energy into Manchester.

We’ve got incredible, fast-growing brands like UKFast and NCC, who are leaders in ethical hacking, something that I am moving into with Secarma. We’ve also got some of the fastest growing ecommerce businesses like Boohoo, Missguided and Pretty Little Things. Alongside all of this are some truly forward-thinking entrepreneurs like the Lad Bible team.

Additionally, you can’t underestimate some of the strategic decisions that have impacted our city the most. The BBC moving here has meant that the British world isn’t just centred around London any more. The BBC has engaged with the whole city and Manchester has benefitted from this massively. The BBC move has undeniably been a catalyst for growth in the region.

Thanks to all of this combined, Manchester is a great place to work and without being a great place to work it can’t be a great place to live. It’s as simple as that.

Manchester is the jewel in the British crown.

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