A letter from Manchester
17 April 2000
20 December 2007
10 June 1998
20 September 2007
15 August 2008
9 July 2010
If the television companies are making programmes here, it must be buzzing. Cold Feet, The Royle Family and Queer as Folk - all highly successful TV series set in the North West - show that the region is vigorous and culturally diverse enough to have attracted and sparked media imagination. Meanwhile, Brookside and Coronation Street go marching on. These three series help make the point that the North West and its economy are vibrant and growing fast.
There are still problem areas - 11 of the UK's 50 most deprived local authority areas are here.
Regeneration is a key part of the economy and will be for many years to come. Some parts of the Manchester skyline seem to be nothing but cranes and scaffolding.
But unemployment is down to about five per cent and falling. The second runway at Manchester Airport is due to open in a few months, and the North West Development Agency is hitting its stride.
The Commonwealth Games will be held in Manchester the year after next, and will deliver prestige, greater employment, social and economic benefits, and five new world class stadia and sports complexes and the new centre for the UK Sports Institute.
The Prime Minister said recently that, in Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee year, the games will be the biggest event that the UK has ever hosted.
And it is not just Manchester. Liverpool is hard to recognise as the place it was 20 years ago.
It is a large broad-based economy, strong in several strategically important sectors which position it well for the future in areas including chemicals and pharmaceuticals, aerospace, banking and financial services, telecoms and, of course, e-business and internet start-ups.
The First Tuesday Club, a meeting ground for new and would-be internet entrepreneurs and their advisers, has expanded into Manchester and Liverpool from London. Biosciences, almost as much in fashion as e-business, are being encouraged through the new Manchester Biotech centre.
Naturally, within such a vigorous economy there is an equally vigorous legal sector, and the intense competition is helping to strengthen all of the leading players. Regional advisers have now emerged strong enough to act in £1bn flotations.
It is also creating new business opportunities. The small company sector is back in vogue, and the North West is bustling with entrepreneurs and a "can do" mentality.
The urban regeneration programmes are creating plenty of work for all of the property-related disciplines such as planning, environment, construction and property development.
The corporate market has been at record levels for the last year and has been especially active in banking and mergers & acquisitions.
The high-tech start-ups are generating work in IP & IT law and related areas, and are fueling the venture capital sector new issues market.
But the North West is not an island.
Our clients are trading internationally, buying companies abroad, or sometimes being acquired themselves.
To be able to carry on advising them, we need to develop and look outwards to new markets.
We might start from local roots, but we need to have an international perspective - however glad we are to see ourselves on the telly.
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