At a glance
- Greater Manchester comprises Manchester, Trafford, Tameside, Salford, Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport
- UK's third largest conurbation after London and the West Midlands, being home to around 2m people
- Economic output of £47bn per annum - equivalent to output of Leeds, Liverpool & Sheffield combined
During the Industrial Revolution Manchester established itself as a cosmopolitan hub of industry and manufacturing, and it rapidly became the centre of industrial reform in the UK.
However, over the past few decades the region's economy has diversified and there is a lot more choice for investment than just cotton and railways.
The health and medical research industry employs almost as many, while an influx of media concerns has seen Manchester become a hub for the creative industries
The main industries in the region are financial and professional services, and the life science and creative industries. Financial, professional and legal companies employ 160,000 people in the area, making it the largest centre for these sectors outside London.
The health and medical research industry employs almost as many, while an influx of media concerns has seen Manchester become a hub for the creative industries. It is the largest broadcasting base for the BBC outside of London and the 'Beeb' has plans to relocate a further £400m worth of programme spend to its centre in Manchester, creating 1,800 jobs.
Greater Manchester is one the UK's largest regional economies. It has a net output of around £47bn and a population of around 2.5m, half a million of which reside in the district of Manchester.
Until the economic downturn, the North West was growing faster than the England average with a 5% growth in the number of firms, compared to only 3% for the rest of England.
Small business start-ups and other entrepreneurial enterprise are being encouraged by a £5m initiative launched early in 2006. The North West Development Agency (NWDA), among other partners, is involved in the programme, which offers support, advice, research projects and e-learning courses to the owners of new businesses and entrepreneurs.
Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, says: "The North has a strong history of entrepreneurship and to attract, grow and retain enterprising individuals it is vital that we nurture a strong enterprising culture."
The city of Manchester is located halfway between London and Edinburgh, and is 80 miles from Birmingham.
Manchester International Airport is 10 miles south of the city centre, providing direct flights to over 200 destinations, including 16 in the UK. The airport is linked directly onto the area's main motorway, the M60, as well being served by a rail link directly into the city centre.
Road networks provide easy access to the city, with over half of Britain's motorway network passing through the North West region.
As the birthplace of passenger rail travel, the city's train services are well established. Virgin Trains operates a high-speed service that reaches London in two hours 15 minutes.
The Metrolink tram system facilitates travel through the city centre and further out into the surrounding areas. The Government announced a major extension to the service in July 2006. A free bus service, the Metroshuttle, navigates the city centre.
A major attraction for those individuals looking to live in Manchester is the city's reputation for a vibrant nightlife, diverse culture and wealth of amenities and attractions. Indeed, the 2006 UK Cities Monitor ranked Manchester as the best UK city apart from London for the availability of retailing and leisure amenities, and lively city environment.
The Arndale shopping centre, Chinatown and the bars of Canal Street are just a few examples of the entertainment on offer. Manchester City Centre has seen massive redevelopment over the past decade due, in part, to the IRA bombing in 1996 followed by the preparations for the Commonwealth Games, which Manchester hosted in 2002. A consequence of both has been a significant increase in property development in the city centre, which now accommodates around 5,000 residential properties.
There has been a similar boom in development of both office and industrial spaces. In the city centre, Spinningfields is one of Europe's largest commercial developments at over 2.5 million sq ft. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Guardian Media Group are two companies that already occupy offices there.
Two miles to the west of the city are Salford Quays and Trafford Park, Greater Manchester's core office and industrial zones. Salford Quays, the redeveloped docklands area, contains a network of modern office buildings while Trafford Park is home to 1,400 companies and it is estimated to be the workplace for around 44,000 people.
In 2005 Manchester was ranked seventh among best European cities for value for money of office space.
Salary rates in Greater Manchester are extremely competitive, with average Gross Annual Earnings in the region standing at £18,945, while the low cost of living offers an enhanced lifestyle. The average house price in Greater Manchester is £142,330.
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