First job this morning was putting a new inner-tube in my rear tyre. A puncture on Tuesday left me with a long walk home pushing the bike up Cheetham Hill and today was the first chance I'd had to fix it. Spend half-an-hour in the Town Hall before nipping off to the Airport for the Etihad announcement that they have decided to locate their European Contact Centre in Manchester. The announcement is made in the Etihad lounge in Terminal One which means there is the whole kerfuffle of getting airside but it's worth it for a development that will create an initial 160 jobs in the city.
There were bids from around the world for this centre ( it doesn't have to be in Europe ) and it was fiercely competitive. What swung in Manchester's favour in the end was the availability of the right language skills in the city and the training support we could give. Yet another example of why we are right to prioritise skills in the Greater Manchester Strategy. As well as being good news in itself it shows that Manchester continues to compete globally on both cost and quality. Just after the press conference, news came through confirming that Airport City had been designated as the Enterprise Zone for Greater Manchester referred to in yesterday's budget statement. The zone allows new businesses to benefit from a subsidy of up to £55,000 per business for up to five years, but more importantly it allows us to capture the growth in business rates in the zone for twenty five years to be reinvested in the Manchester city-regions economy. This " tax increment financing " arrangement is something we and the other English Core Cities have been lobbying for for sometime and so is very welcome. Think I'll stick to good news today so I'll skip from morning to late afternoon when I meet Kay ( Baroness ) Andrews, the relatively new chair of English Heritage. We've developed a very good relationship with EH over the years although not unsurprisingly we are not always in total agreement. The Council alone has over two hundred listed buildings in its estate and we recognise the importance that looking after our heritage plays in the city's future. As a Minister in the previous government Kay argued strongly for recognition of the important role arts and culture ( including heritage ) play in economic development and regeneration and so I'm sure we'll have a very positive discussion.