Last week was the final visit of mine before the summer break.
Rather than go to an emerging market outside of Europe, to the likes of Asia or Latin America, this visit took me a little closer to home.
Home being the operative word here, as I returned to my northern roots and paid visits to the Isle of Man, my hometown of Blackpool, my birthplace of Manchester, as well as Liverpool, Leeds, and Sheffield.
During these whirlwind six days, my main reaction was that the regions are confident about their growth potential in the years to come, and are spurred on by a huge talent pool of hard-working and bright individuals.
Manchester was a prime example of this. The city was awash with ecstatic graduates in their gowns and mortarboards, celebrating their graduation and years of academic effort with their friends and families. The restaurants have no doubt been doing a roaring trade for the past few weeks.
But the wider point here is that there will be 65,000 people graduating this summer from the city, keen and ready to start their careers. For employers this is fantastic news, especially when, in the case of Manchester, over 50 per cent of the graduates stay on after finishing university.
Infrastructure, or more specifically the issue of the northern railway upgrades, was a hot topic in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
It was something that came up time and time again when I met financial and professional services business leaders, and was a big issue in my talks with the recently installed mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham. He has quite rightly been speaking up for his city as to why this matters so much.
There is notable frustration among the public in the north with regards to the timing of the next phase of the Crossrail 2 project coinciding with plans to scrap the full roll out of the electrification of the northern railways. The messages I relayed to the business leaders and especially the mayor was that we should really be progressing with both and that we need to find a creative solution in sorting this.
The City will be vocal in calling for the upgrade of the railways to be made a priority, and we have offered to join the rail summit happening later this summer where we hope to move towards a solution.
As I have said countless times, the growth of the regions does not come at the expense of London, and nor does our capital’s success harm the regions.
Over two thirds of the financial and professional services jobs in the UK are found outside of London – something that we in the City champion. The City wants to see the benefits of a thriving economy being felt by everyone across the country.
I hope during this recent visit that I have relayed that message to the regional business community, and I will be pressing ministers and the government over the summer on how we can better support them.