Around 32,000 jobs are expected to be created in Greater Manchester as details of a £160m 'Investment Zone' have been announced. Public funding confirmed by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in the autumn statement today (November 22) will be spent on the city-region's advanced manufacturing sector over the next 10 years, attract around £1.1bn of private sector investment to the city-region.
Earlier this year, Greater Manchester was named as one of 12 areas across country selected to become an 'Investment Zone'. At the time, the government said each area would get £80m of funding over five years to boost skills, infrastructure and business support.
But today, Mr Hunt announced that the funding would be extended to 10 years which means Greater Manchester will now get £160m. The funding will be used to support initiatives in the advanced materials and manufacturing sector as agreed with the government.
The package will support schemes such as ID Manchester - a new £1.7bn innovation hub in the city centre for businesses and other organisations looking to advance research and development in digital tech, health innovation, biotech and advanced materials and manufacturing. The funding will also help build on the city-region's ambition to create 20,000 jobs and 7,000 homes at Atom Valley.
Spread across a 1.6m sqm site in Bury, Rochdale and Oldham, the Atom Valley project is being overseen by mayor Andy Burnham. He said: "The Investment Zone will help us attract investment and create jobs and opportunities that will benefit people across Greater Manchester. Our city-region has been a centre for manufacturing and materials innovation for centuries, from leading the Industrial Revolution right through to the development of graphene, and the Investment Zone will ensure that continues.
"It’s also a vote of confidence in devolution and its ability to deliver levelling up. Providing more flexibility and local control over spending can help unlock Greater Manchester’s potential.”
Greater Manchester’s advanced manufacturing and materials sector is made up of hundreds of innovative companies and the city-region’s universities host world-leading research with advanced manufacturing alone employs approximately 110,000 people and generates around £8bn of economic output each year. Local leaders hope this new Investment Zone will attract more companies.
Businesses such as Kadant, Werit, First Graphene and Hydrograph have already agreed to invest over £10m in the city-region alongside the new Investment Zone. The government has also confirmed plans to extend the Made Smarter Adoption programme - which helps small and medium-size enterprises adopt digital technologies to help improve productivity and reduce carbon emissions - following a successful pilot in Greater Manchester and the North West, with a view to expanding it across the UK by 2027.
Manchester council leader Bev Craig said: "Greater Manchester has an attractive proposition, with world-leading advanced manufacturing and materials research at our universities, a strong skills base, and an existing ecosystem of innovative companies. The Investment Zone will build on that cluster, linking and investing in different sites across the city-region, and helping us translate research and development and new discoveries into business growth."