The LEP is dead, long live the Business Board

Lou Cordwell

Greater Manchester’s economic strategy will be driven by a new Business Board, that looks remarkably like the Local Enterprise Partnership, which it will effectively replace.

The changes to local economic strategy were outlined in Jeremy Hunt’s deeper devo announcement as part of the Spring Budget.

Speaking to the Business Board chair Lou Cordwell said the timing for the change of gear has come at a pivotal moment.

“We’re at the tipping point for Greater Manchester,” she said.

“Everything that has gone before didn’t happen by accident, but what we do in the next 2-3 years will define the next 20.

“Of course there are economic challenges, but there is something palpably exciting in the air. People talk about Manchester nationally and internationally in a way they haven’t before. There’s no shortage of opportunities for Greater Manchester to put itself on the global map as somewhere that has delivered economic and social innovation together. The city’s collective leadership is very focused on economic growth, of course, but of a kind that brings people and planet with us. Manchester has had a rich social innovation heritage, but also a strong science and innovation legacy and momentum.

“We’re all agreed that we want the next 20 years to be different from the last 20, as successful as that was.”

Recent research and analysis, by independent law firm Brabners, surveyed more than 400 UK and US-based institutional investors and found Manchester ranked as the number one city for investment in 2023, ahead of London.

Cordwell said science and tech investors are finding the golden triangle increasingly saturated, making Manchester’s “IP and asset rich innovation ecosystem” increasingly attractive.

“We’re building a new and productive relationship with Government, as evidenced by the significant devo deal announced last week. Government understands that GM has an important role to play in the UK’s ambition to become a Science Superpower and through our work around projects like the Innovation Accelerator and the MOU with IUK we’re prototyping a new way of working together that’s more open and agile.”

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