PROGRESS21 conference showcases Greater Manchester’s global growth opportunities

Thousands of business leaders and job seekers attended PROGRESS21 yesterday (September 23), Greater Manchester’s largest conference in more than 18 months.

Taking place at the Manchester Central convention centre, it consisted of three key strands: Greater Manchester’s global ambitions; business opportunities, and careers, and boasted several forums, workshops and talks to help individuals and organisations realise growth opportunities.

Organised by The Growth Company, in collaboration with partner organisations across the region, PROGRESS21 represented a major opportunity for the region to come together and revitalise its ambitions.

Mark Hughes, chief executive of The Growth Company, said: “This has been a really special event. As we continue the recovery from Covid-19, PROGRESS21 has been a fundamental stepping stone – a chance to come together and help the city region to recover and start to thrive.

“Whether it’s the businesses we’ve been meeting or individuals looking for a new job, everyone has been trying to achieve that next step and there has been so much energy in the room here at PROGRESS21. 

“Our region has a great story to tell the world and it was fundamental to have an international aspect of PROGRESS21. We want investors to come to the region and invest in our opportunities, we need tourists to come and visit and to engage with universities globally to share our research and development.

“Whether it’s Greater Manchester’s global ambition to attract inward investment, the SMEs wanting to learn about internationalisation or the people helping in careers to help give guidance, help people find jobs, reskill and discover that dynamism.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, delivered a speech to hundreds of delegates in the Exchange Auditorium to demonstrate his ambitions for the region and the delivery of a world-class public transport system.

About the event, he said: “It’s fantastic to see the buzz and hear the noise and chatter in the room today. Many of these businesses have been held back during the pandemic and people here are raring to get back out into the jobs market. The two are coming together here and it’s fantastic to see. Greater Manchester is very much back in business and we’re coming back strong. 

“We’re a global city, we’re a leader in digital and green technologies. We’ve got so much to offer and I think that Manchester is increasingly being noticed on that international stage for what’s happening here.

“We’ve never believed here that the public or private sector alone can achieve what we want for Greater Manchester and we support each other. Today is all about renewing those partnerships and relationships between public, private, voluntary, community and faith sectors. It’s wonderful to see it in action at PROGRESS21.

“The fact that so many people, who are all interested in how we build a future for the city region, have come together today gives me lots of optimism. In the last 20 years, we have become almost as we were in the 19th century, we have become that optimistic can-do city.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, addressed attendees in the final speech of the day reflecting on some of the city’s major achievements over the last two decades and how it intends to continue to grow into the future.

Following his keynote address, he said: “The fact that we’ve been able to organise this event and have so many businesses, exhibitors and employers here shows the ambition of Greater Manchester and that we’re already doing something to realise those ambitions.

“We’re open for business, we’re open for more business and we’re going to drive this city region forward.”