IT’S easy to fall into the mindset that all of Merseyside’s economic success derives directly from within the centre of Liverpool, but we are currently seeing plenty of evidence to the contrary. Headline developments such as Liverpool2 spring to mind immediately, with the first phase of this huge investment project now nearing completion. The halo effect will be felt in the immediate vicinity in areas such as Seaforth, Waterloo and Bootle – indeed, we’ve already seen a rise in demand for office space at nearby Burlington House – and I’m reading more and more about the clutch of growing businesses that now line Derby Road. It’s also great news for property owners in the area, who are likely to witness a continued rise in values as the expanding port gathers pace. The wider benefits are also clear as thousands of North West businesses look to capitalise on a brand new deep water container facility that can connect them directly to the rest of the world. At the other end of the Mersey, the second bridge crossing is taking shape before our eyes and soon the various freight and logistics businesses that reside in this corner of Merseyside, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of commuters every year, will be able to cross the river without undue delay, adding millions of hours of productivity to our regional economy. These stories of investment and progress abound across Merseyside, from eye catching physical developments like Liverpool FC’s new main stand, to the launch at Cammell Laird of Boaty McBoatface, as I will forever know it. With the momentum that the Northern Powerhouse agenda could ultimately bring, it seems the whole of the region is primed for even better times. World of trade coming to shore The International Festival for Business kicks off in less than a month’s time and I’m really excited to see Liverpool’s entrepreneurs and dealmakers come to life as the world’s business community comes to town. When it was last on our shores in 2014, IFB was comprised of more than 400 events over seven weeks and organisers have since claimed it led to the creation of 8,000 jobs, with 200 firms generating around £250m. This year’s event is much more streamlined – 75 events over three weeks – and I think this will only add to the dynamism of those attending, with delegates eager to ‘do business’ as quickly and effectively as possible. From a property perspective, it’s essential that we are able to attract potential inward investors to the city in person. Sales brochures or fly-through models are all well and good, but nothing can quite match the feeling you get from visiting a great city. Liverpool’s architecture, its buzz, the friendliness of the people; they are all intangible on paper, but for three weeks they will be very much on show to visitors and such things can often be the ‘X factor’ ingredient that makes businesses decide to locate themselves here. That’s why it’s so important for everyone in the city to get involved however they can. Liverpool is a place imbued with ambition, an indomitable spirit of enterprise and a clear understanding that business is mainly about making and maintaining relationships. Never has there been a better time to demonstrate that ability to the world. Not only can we welcome visitors and give them the best sense of what Liverpool has to offer, but even more crucially there might well be something for each of our businesses to gain from the event. Deals will be done and new opportunities explored, so why not make sure it’s your business that benefits? A feast of food You may have heard the jungle drums beating; an invasion is set to befall the Commercial District this summer and the greatest casualty is likely to be my wallet. A veritable swathe of high quality, contemporary bars and restaurants are planning to plant their flag here, bringing everything from Indian street food to gourmet pizza slices and eye-watering cocktails. The Alchemist, which just so happens to be one of my favourite Manchester haunts, arrives at the former Noble House on Brunswick Street at the end of July, while the team behind venues such as Santa Chupitos and Salt Dog Slims arrive at the former Starbucks on Castle Street with the tantalising promise of a rodizio pizzeria called Santa Maluco. Meanwhile, revered Indian restaurateur and self-professed “curry evangelist” Nisha Katona is planning to open a second Mowgli in the city at the former Optimax space at the top of Water Street. Tiffin for lunch? Don’t mind if I do! Neighbourhood, located in the building formerly home to Trials Hotel or What’s at 62, depending on your age, is another new arrival coming at the end of summer. It will sit just a few doors down from the new San Carlo Fume, a more relaxed, later night version of its sister venue over the road. Both of these brands work fantastically well along the M62 and I’m sure they’ll be a big hit here too. When you consider that these new openings add to an already impressive list of existing restaurants, such as the extremely popular CAU Argentinian Steakhouse, it’s clear that Castle Street is quickly becoming the undisputed food capital of Liverpool.