The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has revealed that England’s Northwest is once again the UK’s leading region for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outside of London and the Southeast.
Figures released nationally on 17th June by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) show that the number of inward investment projects secured in the Northwest over the last financial year has risen to the highest recorded number for the region, despite the difficult economic conditions.
The number of jobs created/safeguarded remains strong too, higher than anywhere else in the UK outside of London, with significantly higher figures achieved compared to 2006 and 2007 levels, but a lower total compared to the record achieved last year. Despite securing more foreign direct investment projects this year than any other there has been a trend for these projects to be smaller in size. Overall the figures far exceeded expectations.
The Northwest has attracted 176 investment projects during 2008/09, an increase of 21 projects on last year and an increase of 64 projects on 2006/07.
These 176 projects have created or safeguarded 11,436 jobs, a surprising increase of 4,000 on the 2006/07 totals, but 3,000 less than the record breaking figures achieved during the buoyant economic landscape in 2007/08.
FDI plays a very important part in the Northwest economy. A study by DTZ for the NWDA in 2008 highlighted the value and significance that FDI has in our region. The report found that over 17% of regional gross value added (GVA) is accounted for by foreign owned companies operating in the Northwest and that economic output (GVA) per worker is almost 50% higher in foreign owned companies compared to the regional average.
Colin Sinclair, chief executive of MIDAS, Manchester’s investment and development agency, said: “These figures prove that the partner organisations charged with securing and protecting investments and jobs for the Northwest and Manchester City Region worked together to perform exceptionally in a very difficult global economic climate.
“We’re very proud of the fact that MIDAS beat its Local Authority targets by creating and safeguarding 4,735 jobs and attracting more than 80 UK and foreign direct investments in the City Region in 08/09.
“None of the agencies involved in shaping the City Region as a top 10 European business location are resting on their laurels and we at MIDAS remain totally focused on exploiting further investment and job opportunities for the City Region in the tough times ahead.”
Steven Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive, said: “These figures are a real lift from the doom and gloom stories that have filled our media during this difficult global economic downturn. FDI remains a fierce competition and we should be proud of the work of our investment teams across the Northwest and promote this good news as much as we can to encourage a culture of business optimism for the year ahead.
The NWDA continues to work with partners across the region, overseas and the UKTI, to develop the international competitiveness of the region and we shall continue to focus our efforts on good quality foreign investment.
We are delighted at the figures this year, particularly given the economic conditions, but we are remaining realistic and we know that the year ahead will also be challenging and we should be prepared for this. However, I am also confident that we are seeing some seeds of growth and we should all remain optimistic and prepare for the upturn now.”
The collaboration between the NWDA and sub-regional partners, including The Mersey Partnership, MIDAS, Lancashire Economic Partnership, Cheshire & Warrington Economic Alliance and Invest in Cumbria, has contributed to the impressive figures. The NWDA is delighted with the figures this year, achieved despite the difficult economic conditions which have developed across the world, affecting investment decisions of all sizes, across the globe.
The USA remains the key source of FDI into the Northwest, followed by Germany, Switzerland and Japan.
Nationally the RDAs have been involved in more inward investment projects this year (637) compared to last year (601). And although there has been a decline in the new jobs created in the current climate, the RDAs have maintained a steady performance, with a total of 18,326 new jobs being created as a result of inward investment projects in which RDAs have been involved.
An increasing focus of the RDAs during 2008-2009 was on delivering immediate and effective support to help companies mitigate the impact of the downturn. This led to RDAs helping a total of 18,028 people remain in employment as a result of jobs being safeguarded through inward investment, almost 8% more than last year.