WHISPER it carefully, but there’s a real sense of optimism swirling around the business community in north Liverpool right now. Towns like Bootle, Crosby and Southport have all suffered something of a downturn in recent decades, each struggling to define and renew themselves in response to the powerful juggernaut of regeneration in Liverpool city centre. Given the strength of Liverpool’s forward momentum and its success in re-establishing itself on the global map, I suspect this local eclipse may now be permanent, however that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for neighbouring suburban towns to prosper in their own right. Slowly but surely, these areas are beginning to find their own path, dovetailing with the successes along the Mersey to discover rich veins of opportunity and future growth. The standout catalyst is, of course, the continued expansion of the Port of Liverpool, which is broadening the city’s horizons as an international trading hub and bringing with it an array of new commercial and employment opportunities. We’ve seen evidence of this ourselves at Bruntwood, as enquiries and lettings at our two office developments in Waterloo and Bootle continue to soar. Some businesses that have never had an office anywhere near Merseyside are now looking for space near the docks as they bid to secure new contracts, create more jobs and expand their own horizons. The key word here is confidence. Companies and investors from inside and outside the region are now looking at north Liverpool with a rare confidence, buoyed by the investment and belief that is already beginning to flourish. I attended a business networking breakfast at Hugh Baird College recently, hosted by DSG chartered accountants. The size and diversity of the turnout really impressed me and highlighted the progress that is being made. Much credit must go to Sefton Council, which has drawn up investment strategies for the regeneration of these areas and has taken a proactive approach to working with businesses and creating change. It’s a refreshing approach that is clearly bearing fruit as we see the launch of a brand new hotel in Bootle and the announcement of another in Waterloo, a next phase of redevelopment in Crosby town centre and a new range of arts and culture initiatives for sunny Southport. For our part, Bruntwood is about to invest a further than £1 million into our properties in the area and we pledge to continue working with the council and other development partners to help north Liverpool realise its true potential once again. Confidence breeds confidence and property and leisure developers are now waking up to the possibilities along the Sefton Coast, which is great news for everybody, especially those who live nearby. Lee’s Loss Is My Gain! I BECAME head of sales at Bruntwood in January, taking over from the marvellously talented Matt Lee, who has relocated to another, extremely important, job with Bruntwood in Manchester. Not only have I taken Matt Lee’s comfy seat in the office, I have also assumed the domain of his business column in Good News Liverpool, and I’m thrilled to do so. I was really intrigued by the idea behind Good News Liverpool and I’ve been equally impressed by how the newspaper has come to life over the past year or so. The political, commercial and physical landscape of the Liverpool city region is about to undergo a period of much change, with a new Mayor to be elected for the combined authority, the looming completion of the new Mersey Gateway bridge and even the possibility of a new football stadium for the blue half of the city, to mention but a few highlights. Much of this should hopefully leave us better off than we were before, but only time will tell, and I’m very much looking forward to discussing it with GNL readers over the coming months.