Paul Corcoran, CEO of Agent and vice chair of Liverpool city region LEP, discusses the strength of business in the North
It seems that every day we’re greeted with even more reasons to feel anxious about how the current political upheaval will impact our city region and the North in the long term.
Whilst it is alleged to take place on 31st October, we still have no idea if Brexit is actually going to happen on that day, and even if it does happen, what form it will take and the impact it will have on businesses.
I know from speaking to business leaders, both from small businesses like my own to larger corporations that operate internationally, that preparing for this has been and will continue to be challenging.
However, I believe that the North is better placed than many other areas of the country to face this challenge head on and make it out the other side.
Recently, the Northern Powerhouse, the Government’s strategic plan to increase connectivity and grow the economy in the North of England, announced that it has now amassed over 300 strategic partner organisations.
I am pleased to say that my own company, full-service brand and communications agency, Agent is among these 300 partners. We’re joining the likes of Rolls Royce, KPMG and Santander to demonstrate our commitment to growing the North’s economy by creating jobs, supporting infrastructure projects and working with young people to ensure that they are future-ready.
Formed in 2014, the Northern Powerhouse has been a champion of both small and large businesses, and with the upcoming challenges ahead of us, has been key in ensuring that the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the North continue to support their local economies.
The Northern Powerhouse has also been a staunch supporter of ensuring little disparity between infrastructure in the North and in the South, where, for example, three times the amount of money is currently spent on transport per person living there.
Devolution has also been another success of the Northern Powerhouse. Since the election of metro mayors for five city regions in 2014, we have seen the benefits of devolved Government, especially when considering the achievements of Liverpool City Region’s metro mayor, Steve Rotheram.
The work of the Northern Powerhouse will continue to be essential as we navigate the next few months and years, but it is more than encouraging to see the organisation steadfastly concentrate on its goal of growing the region’s economy by £100 billion and creating 850,000 jobs.
I’m exceptionally proud to base my business in our city region, which has allowed me to build a strong team of 23 incredibly talented individuals and support the next generation of creative and digital talent through our sister social enterprise, Agent Academy.
As we continue to grow the business and employ some of the best creative and digital talent around, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of national and international contracts we are winning. I’m particularly happy with this, as these pieces of work are typically won by London-based agencies – commissioners are truly realising that creative talent and indeed financial value resides beyond the Watford gap.
In my role as deputy chair of the Liverpool LEP, I play a supporting role in shaping the strategies and plans that will drive growth and create jobs in our city region. It’s been a fascinating role so far and I’m constantly amazed at the talent, innovation and determination being demonstrated by the private sector leaders who want more than anything to see the North’s economy continue to grow.
We are also incredibly lucky to have some extraordinary assets right here in our city region and indeed across the North. From world-renowned universities, pioneering tech and life sciences firms to multibillion pound regeneration schemes like Peel Land and Property’s Liverpool Waters and Media City, we are remaining competitive across a number of industries and setting the tone for how we want to present ourselves, both on a national and international stage, for years to come.
It is these assets, alongside continued devolution and private sector interventions, that have allowed us to not only create fantastic business opportunities in the North, but also to keep them right here, so that local people can benefit from the economic and social advantages.
I am convinced that if we continue work to incredibly high standards, support our local talent to shine, and work in collaboration with businesses across the industries and sectors based in the North, we’ll get through this, stronger than ever before. Not so grim up North, eh?