Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council

Written by Sir Richard Leese

The Manchester at MIPIM Partnership is a significant event on the city-region’s investment and development calendar. It’s a pleasure to be leading the Partnership this year, and I’m looking forward joining the delegation in Cannes next March.

Manchester has had a presence at MIPIM for the last 18 years now, and that’s because we realised long ago that the future of the city lay in developing an international presence. We also recognised that the development industry, an international industry, is a key part of how we build that future. So that’s why we continue to exhibit at Cannes every March, and why an increasing number of companies are joining us.

International Manchester

If the future of Manchester is as an international city, which I believe that it is, we are not going achieve this by sitting at home and waiting for people to come to us. We have to be out there in key market places, and that’s why we have been going to MIPIM for the past 18 years. This is about Manchester establishing a presence as an international city - as a place to come, live, work and do business.

Earlier this year, at Manchester International Festival, we launched a revised internationalisation strategy for Greater Manchester. As a result we are now a lot clearer about the market places that we are operating within, and about what it is we have to offer to those markets

This is something that I have mentioned on a number of occasions, but I cannot stress enough how important internationalisation is to Manchester’s future. Although we have good trade links around the world, it is an area where we could do much better, and our internationalisation strategy is part that.

Clearly, Brexit has been one of the UK’s most pressing recent anxieties, and unfortunately there is probably not a lot more clarity around this than there was during MIPIM 2017. The approach that we have taken in Manchester is to provide support to business, to build business confidence, and to deliver the message that whatever happens out of Brexit, Manchester has a strong future. It is through working together and through the strong partnerships that we establish at events like MIPIM that we can ensure this happens.

Building Connections

Although it has a civic presence from the City Council and increasingly from other Greater Manchester councils, the Manchester Stand has always been predominantly a private sector stand - and that’s what MIPIM is about. It’s about business, and the important role that the private sector must play in terms of growing the economy of the city.

Ultimately it is the private sector that is going to bring in investment and create new jobs. So private sector partnership is absolutely at the core not just of how we approach MIPIM, but also core to how we grow the new Manchester.

Similarly, it’s important that we continue work on building intercity relationships. When we talk about the Northern Powerhouse for example, we need to be really clear that it isn’t about any one individual city.

Indeed the whole thinking behind the concept is that by getting Northern cities better connected we can grow a single labour market, a virtual city of 10million people, in a region of 15million people, and through that get the benefits of conglomeration from specialisation and from scale. One of the things we want to project at MIPIM 2018 is our proximity to other cities across the North, the ways that we are working together and the critical mass that creates.

One of Manchester at MIPIM’s key elements for a number of years now has been working with organisations such as the OECD, and a number of comparable European cities - places like Hamburg, Barcelona, Lyon, Stockholm and Amsterdam.

This has given a valuable platform for Manchester, and indeed these other cities, and has helped us build those international intercity links that are at the core of Manchester’s economic future. We would like this to continue in MIPIM 2018, again drawing on these new important themes around building the future of our cities.

Themes for 2018

Looking at Manchester’s development, we’re still seeing an enormous amount of activity taking place in areas like NOMA, St. Johns, First Street, away from the city centre in East Manchester, the Irwell Valley, and Airport City.

We are still seeing growth in both the market rental sector in housing, but also increasingly around the city centre I am delighted to say we are now seeing more apartments/houses being built for owner occupiers. I think it is those trends and new developments that we are really going to project at MIPIM 2018, building on what we have achieved in the past.

What we want to do at MIPIM 2018 is talk about the scale of developments taking place in the city and the opportunities that come from that, but also promote the new opportunities that are arising.

In this way we want to talk not just about physical developments also about the economic sectors that are growing in the region, and how these are going to provide the business and the infrastructure necessary to support investment.

It is very early to be discussing the specific themes for MIPIM 2018, not least because we like them to be as contemporary as possible, so they won’t be finalised until the New Year. However we envisage that arts and culture will play a significant role, particularly with the Factory coming on site. There are also a massive amount of health developments taking place that will definitely help shape the agenda.

But importantly if we’re to shape a strong programme of events for 2018, we need the Partnership to put forward their suggestions about what the key themes should be, and what events we should include. We are really looking forward to our partners demonstrating Manchester’s creativity, drive, and dynamism, bringing forward some really exciting suggestions for what we should be discussing at the Manchester Pavilion. So it’s in your hands – help us make Manchester at MIPIM 2018 the best yet.