The Northern Powerhouse is as much a marketing slogan as a description of a political or economic reality. But as with all marketing, once an idea is established in the public’s consciousness, it may in fact magically become something more concrete.
As Machiavelli said: ‘Tell the people you are the prince – and you are the prince.’
It’s certainly clear that something exciting is happening in Manchester’s digital and creative industries. They were measured at 56,000 employees in the Tech City report of January 2015, making them a pivotal employer for the region.
The BBC’s move to MediaCityUK in Salford had an accelerator effect, creating additional jobs in supplier industries like post production and digital suppliers – whilst encouraging other creative firms, including our own, Shine North, to make the migration too. A digital talent base is making its long term home in Manchester – even if some of the people who make it up originally came to town reluctantly as BBC transplants.
The University of Salford and other local universities are all focusing on digital economy readiness for their graduates. And finally a wide variety of digital/creative-focused projects are up and running or underway, from Space and Sharp projects, to Home and The Factory.
For Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) this is an opportunity and a challenge simultaneously. The opportunity is the rising tide of an economic hubbub that is creating more digital marketing work for agencies, more start-ups, more talented staff in the local economy, and more places to work. The challenge is to find a way of increasing the sales and exports of Manchester as a whole first to London (where the majority of decision making clients still are) and then to the wider world, as discussed further in this article on the importance of investment in creativity.
What’s great is that with the Northern Powerhouse, the global impact of two football teams, BBC Sport and BBC Children, fast moving local companies like AO, Missguided, OnTheBeach or BooHoo, the brand impact of production in the region for a global market is more credible. That helps win business. We’ve seen that with our own business Shine North in MediaCityUK, where we have been producing for largely global customers, both broadcasters and brands.
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