October 1, 2019
When I first joined Lloyds Banking Group, the plans being championed by the Government and business leaders to unlock the economic potential of the North were in their infancy. The Northern Powerhouse ambition was just a concept and UK PLC was, by and large, London-centric.
While we still have a considerable way to go, the North has made significant strides towards achieving parity with the capital in the intervening two decades. The region has become a lightning rod for investment. Recent research from EY and the Centre for Towns found foreign direct investment (FDI) in Newcastle alone has doubled in the last 20 years.
During this time, another trend has emerged. North-Shoring – the shift of corporations away from the South of England to the cities of the North – began to gain real momentum when magic circle law firms and the Big Four kick-started a professional services migration northward. They were joined by institutions such as the BBC, in Salford, and most recently Channel 4, in Leeds. Over this time, we’ve been by the side of North East businesses as they’ve taken advantage of an increasingly vibrant Northern economic landscape.
Today, multinationals are moving in. Amazon’s new headquarters – the technology giant’s first outside London – is set to open in Manchester this year. In the North East, we are well equipped to attract the same scale of organisation.
Our region has a thriving digital technology sector predicted to be worth £2.5 billion by 2020. We also have a rich seam of graduate talent from universities including Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, and Grade A office space that is, on average, 76 per cent cheaper than equivalents in London.
Companies North-Shoring from the South, or even re-shoring from overseas, not only provide a boost for the local economy and encourage similar moves by other organisations, but they can provide opportunities for firms already on the ground in the North East in the form of new contracts and partnership opportunities.
Local firms that invest in growth now will be well positioned to take advantage of the North-Shoring trend as it gains momentum and more global businesses choose our region as an attractive alternative to London.
Looking ahead, there are well-documented challenges the North East must overcome to support the region’s upwards trajectory. Beyond wider political and economic uncertainty, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership recently cited employment opportunities for young people and regional productivity as areas for improvement in its 2019 strategy.
We should, however, be confident our region is an attractive destination for businesses looking to north-shore, as the trend accelerates. As a burgeoning digital hub, the North East’s technology community is just one industry that’s set to benefit.
Advanced manufacturing and offshore wind, for example, are both identified as high growth sectors by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and would profit from more international businesses putting down roots in the region.
There’s so much potential to unlock across the North East. I’m proud to stand side-by-side with local businesses as they pursue their growth ambitions, and we’ve committed to lending £700 million this year to help them achieve their goals.
Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking