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GCHQ Relocation Will Be Massive For Manchester


The arrival in Manchester of GCHQ, the UK government's cybersecurity, secret communications and evesdropping agency, could be more significant for the region's economy than the BBC's relocation to Salford's MediaCity announced in 2004 and completed in 2011.

So said the head of the Greater Manchester regional investment agency as GCHQ prepares to launch its new regional base.

"GCHQ has the potential to have the same effect, if not more, than the BBC's relocation in my opinion," MIDAS Chief Executive Tim Newns told North West Business Insider. "It's a global industry with huge growth behind it."

GCHQ announced in April that it would open a new Manchester centre, to work with its Cheltenham base and London outstation. The new centre was due to open this year.

In September it emerged that GCHQ had taken its first small steps into the Manchester property market, signing up for 1K SF with Manchester Science Partnerships.

The Cheltenham-based government listening post agreed a joint venture with partners Cisco and Wayra that will help them tap into the brightest software engineering startups in the UK — and by tap into they probably mean work with, rather than spy on. The launch of what the JV called an ‘engineer accelerator’ in the heart of Manchester is the first partnership of its kind for GCHQ.

The BBC move to Salford's MediaCity was rated by some observers as a disappointment.

A report by the Centre for Cities claimed that less than 5,000 jobs were created in the Salford area as a result of the BBC’s move, one-third of the 15,000 originally predicted.

Civic leaders challenged the figures claiming the media sector was now worth more than £3B to the city region economy.