The freight and logistics sector is ubiquitous yet place-specific at the same time. In the northwest of England the sector has long been important due to the region’s excellent road, rail, air, sea and waterway connectivity to other parts of the UK and internationally. This provides a solid base of existing firms, labour skills and infrastructure provision on which to build in order to grow the freight and logistics sector and the economic footprint it occupies.
The Liverpool2 port development has increased container traffic handling capacity, and with the Atlantic Gateway strategy moving ahead, there is real potential for economic growth to be delivered across the region linked to increased freight and logistics activity.
Economic growth can manifest itself in different ways. In its most obvious form this occurs through direct effects such as jobs at ports, airports, multi-modal terminals and regional distribution parks, as companies respond to market demands and an increase their operations. Economic activity also occurs through indirect effects through the trickle down consumer spending directly and indirectly employed people. In this model of economic activity increased freight and logistics effects can uplift job numbers and the economic productivity known as gross value added (GVA).
For the northwest region an increase in jobs has been a strategic objective for several decades. More activity in the freight and logistics sector will visibly demonstrate to current and future school leavers and jobseekers that there are real and long-term opportunities in this sector. This is particularly important in the metropolitan and urban centres through the Atlantic Gateway area, where a greater employment will support the regeneration and economic development aspirations of local public sector agencies. With more people in employment there is a commensurate uplift in GVA.
It is this gain that the government is interested in as a means of rebalancing the economy and reducing the north-south productivity gap. These strategic economic shifts will take time but the freight and logistics sector has a positive role to play and support from the Northern Powerhouse could assist in advancing this economic growth.