My job is to ensure Manchester’s businesses both big and small have a direct line to Government ministers to help create local jobs and growth.
Last week I did just that, hosted a business event in the city with Nick Clegg and the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to see what more the Government could do to support the creation of new jobs and apprenticeships in south Manchester.
The Chamber recognised that, with the City Deal, Government has given local decision makers the power to create local growth and jobs. This deal will create 6000 new apprenticeships and boost the local economy by £2bn in the next three years, and, along with the announcement of £12 million to help Manchester become a “super-connected” City, was called a “Game-Changer” by Manchester Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein.
The Chamber were also happy that large infrastructure projects like High Speed Rail and the Northern Hub rail projects had been agreed.
Between these two schemes, it is estimated that some £32bn of investment could create up to 80,000 new jobs in the north, including many thousands of construction jobs and at least 10,000 local jobs in and around the two new stations at Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
The £1.4billion Didsbury Metrolink expansion, twice cancelled under Labour, has been delivered earlier than planned by this Government, with a further station opening planned at Mauldeth Road West in 2016.
As well as talking to the Chamber, I also work with smaller local businesses to see how I can help their business. Last month, I visited Tiger Properties in Didsbury and in March hosted a drop in event in Chorlton as part of the National Apprentice week. I even nominated a local business, Turkish Delight, who won a national ”Kebab shop of the year” award.
Some of this work is starting to bear fruit. There were 10,600 new business start-ups in Manchester last year, cutting local unemployment by 6%. Even more encouraging, the number of apprenticeships in Manchester has doubled since 2010, and local youth unemployment has dropped 18% in the past year.
There is still much to do on jobs. However, Unemployment in south Manchester is now about 5% lower than when Labour left office in 2010.