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Mipim fixed grins and positive spin

And if you were to go by the sales speak of most of the big hitters here on the Croissette then you could be convinced the crash had never happened.

But while the big boys may be bullish as ever, I detect a hint of the fixed grin out here. Certainly the London stand was packed on day one, bolstered no doubt by a keynote from Mayor Boris Johnson.

He turned on the charm for the overflowing auditorium and referred – for the third time that day at least – to a recent Citi report that put London at the top of the growth pile for the world’s major cities.

The capital’s various regeneration areas are on display at the beach side pavilion and most of them talk a good game.

Nine Elms seems on the cusp of finally achieving something and the Olympics has given the Eastern side of town a much needed buzz.

But quiet words with some developers revealed an element of fragility behind the façade. “Did Boris mention us in his keynote” asked one, all but pleadingly.

“Its been OK today but the show’s still pretty quiet compared to the old days.”

Away from the capital and there a few notable absences. Liverpool aren’t here and One North East is nowhere to be seen. 

But Birmingham have put on a good show thanks to help from Willmott Dixon and Carillion. 

Manchester have gone one better than Coventry and not just rented an apartment but have a restaurant booked out too. 

And Leeds and Luton are also well represented.

But with all of them facing serious cuts the discussion has been all about new funding models and there are some interesting ideas on show.

Birmingham city council leader Mike Whitby spent the morning telling CN all about his city’s work with Abu Dhabi which shows promising signs of unlocking billions of pounds of private sector investment in the country’s second city –of which more later.

Nine Elms appears to have successfully emulated the Cross Rail levy and Battersea power station owner REO say the scheme has worked so well they have raised far more than the 550 million needed to make the crucial Northern line extension happen.

Wates were on hand to talk about their new funding models with Luton.

And Edinburgh city council have a huge amount of work looking good thanks to their innovative use of Tax Increment Finance.

So as the city’s investment promotion manger Jonathon Guthrie tells me, there is a reason to be optimistic, all be it cautiously.

“We aren’t out of the woods yet but things are a lot better than last year and the new ideas around long term investment are very promising.”

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