Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim discusses the Northern Powerhouse Initiative

Launched in 2016, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership is the leading voice of business and leaders across the North. The vision of The Northern Powerhouse is to connect the cities of the North, to build a thriving economic hub that will allow more access for better pay, an increase in highly-skilled jobs, and also attract businesses from around the world that look to capitalise on a talent pool of millions.


In a recent interview, Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim discussed the Northern Powerhouse and what it means to himself and Avrenim: 


“The Northern Powerhouse still holds a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the economic growth and development of the northern regions of England. For me, it was established as a vehicle to devolve power from Westminster to the northern regions, sharing the vision of the Northern Powerhouse by investing in infrastructure, innovation, and skills development at a regional and local level.


“Its primary purpose is to benefit from the potential of the North of England as a hub for technological advancements, entrepreneurship, and job creation by fostering innovation and collaboration between businesses, universities, and the government to drive the region’s economic prosperity’

Has enough happened since the inception of the Northern Powerhouse?

“Since its inception, the Northern Powerhouse initiative has brought attention to the regional political landscape, limitations of infrastructure and economic potential of the northern regions of England as a combined entity. 

“While progress has been made, it’s fair to say that more needs to happen to fully realise the vision of the Northern Powerhouse.” 

Has the appointment of metro mayors helped the initiative?

“The appointment of metro mayors has facilitated better coordination and collaboration between different local authorities within the metro regions. By pooling resources and expertise, metro mayors can tackle common challenges and work towards shared goals. This approach enables a more integrated and strategic approach as opposed to central government led initiatives. If you take the climate change challenge facing us all, a truly integrated approach with energy and momentum from a metro mayor can only be a good thing.

What needs to be done to help the North recover from the Covid-19 outbreak?

‘The continued recovery of the North following the Covid-19 outbreak requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that addresses various aspects of regional economy, society, and infrastructure. I feel the below are areas of attention:

“Ongoing Economic Support: targeted support to businesses in the North including grants to mitigate rising costs and tax relief to help struggling businesses.

“Infrastructure Investment: This is vital to further support economic recovery. Investments in transportation networks can improve regional connectivity, support businesses, and attract investment. Investing in green infrastructure contributes to both economic recovery and environmental sustainability.

“Skills Development and Education: We have to equip the workforce in the North with the necessary skills for the changing marketplace.

“Devolution: Continuing the devolution of powers and resources to the North can empower local authorities and communities to make decisions that best suit local/regional needs. Greater autonomy and decision-making capabilities mean a more targeted and effective set of policies for further regional development and recovery.

“Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Supporting start-ups and small businesses through access to funding, incubators, and mentorship programs will support diversifying the commercial landscape of the region”.

What is the main issue you would like to see dominate the Northern Powerhouse agenda?

“I would use the headline ‘Levelling Up’. However, this is also multifaceted. We need the right level of infrastructure to succeed. We take longer to get around our northern region than it does to travel to the extremes of the country in some cases which isn’t conducive to successful sustainable growth and ease of business. A truly inclusive growth strategy can strive to create a region where opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of background or location, ultimately leading to a more prosperous and cohesive region”.

How would the success of the Northern Powerhouse agenda benefit your business?

“It can positively impact all businesses in the region and I am sure there will be common threads from my own view on the impact to Avrenim.

“If we get this right, then the number of investment opportunities generated by attracting both domestic and international investment to the North is significant. We should be able to move more efficiently across the region creating better value and more opportunity whilst making the region more attractive to potential employees also with better opportunity to enhance existing skills or learn new skills to support a diversifying economy. All these things give Avrenim masses of opportunity and a solid future”.