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Talent retention and business formation is as important to long term growth as FTSE 100 companies, says Sir Howard Bernstein

Sir Howard Bernstein, an influential figure in encouraging investment and growth in Manchester, believes that driving innovation in talent development and retention will become one of the critical strengths in national recovery, following the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

In an exclusive interview with Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London – which will be featured in the first episode of new web series, Enterprise City TV – the Manchester City Council ex-Chief Executive discusses how making cities more accessible, both physically and financially, for working people will propel growth from the current situation. He says that there currently are not enough people with the right skills living in city centres to do the jobs which will need doing in the recovery and growth efforts.

Sir Howard believes that the right talent will in turn attract more business, saying: “The more you drive talent development and retention, the more other corporate businesses say, that’s where I want to be. I need to be where I can work and hire people and maintain my talent base, which I think will become one of the critical strengths on national recovery over the next decade.”

The exclusive interview with Sir Howard Bernstein is the first in a series of talks with influential figures that have contributed to the present and future successes of the region. Enterprise City TV will put a spotlight on what is going on in the cultural capital of the north, capturing the faces and places of enterprise in the UK. The first episode of the web series launches this week, with subsequent episodes being released on a frequent basis.

Enterprise City is a media, tech and creative cluster in the heart of Manchester City centre, which provides exceptional workspaces and inspiring cultural spaces, allowing modern industry to flourish. It is also home to Exchange, a start-up support programme, based in Department Bonded Warehouse, which has equipped 39 start-ups with the skills needed to scale and thrive, helping them raise millions in funding, and supported 182 individuals in the region.

Sir Howard says these kinds of approaches will position cities well for the future: “We haven’t got enough of the people with the right skills to do the jobs that need to be done over the next 10 years, and that’s why initiatives such as at Spinningfields and St. John’s around talent retention and business formation will be as important to long term growth as the FTSE 100 companies.”

Sir Howard and CEO of Allied London, Michael Ingall, have spent many years repositioning parts of Manchester City Centre to attract enterprise, innovation, and talent to the city, with a history of successful placemaking.

Talking about developer’s roles in the near future, Sir Howard said: “The most successful investors and developers in provincial cities have been the ones who have adapted their business models to suit the changing environment of cities.

“There is no longer a single focus on corporate in the way we find corporates in a conventional sense. Progressive companies want to be part of networks and when you start to address networks, developers have to start thinking of the essential components of a network.

“There is as much emphasis that needs to be placed on new emerging companies with great ideas but that haven’t yet got a very strong covenant strength to sign a lease for 25 years as a corporation which can sign up for a lease for 25 years.”

On the public sector, Sir Howard said: “The role of the public sector is to create the space that facilitates the process of reinvigoration to provide the attraction for people to live and work.”