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Banks join Manchester's 24-hour party

Mention Manchester, England, and high finance does not immediately spring to mind.

Mention Manchester, England, and high finance does not immediately spring to mind. The cradle of the Industrial Revolution has in recent years become better known for its renowned soccer club and burgeoning music scene. Local entrepreneur Tony Wilson's madcap exploits running the notorious Hacienda nightclub and record label Factory Records, for instance, were captured in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People.

But the city is working to change that perception, in part by trying to attract a group of people known for keeping saner hours: bankers. In September, Bank of New York chose Manchester over a number of U.K. and European cities that had hoped to host the new, 40,000-square-foot center for its securities-servicing business. The outpost will employ 350 people.

BoNY joins several financial firms, including Citigroup and the Royal Bank of Scotland, that have set up shop in the self-proclaimed capital of Britain's north. The banks are being drawn in large part by Manchester's well-educated labor force -- the city has the highest concentration of university students in the U.K.

"We're looking not to move people to Manchester but to hire loyal Manchester citizens," says Donald Monks, the BoNY vice chairman in charge of operations and technology. Having lots of graduating seniors nearby surely will help.

Still, the city may not want to completely obscure its reputation as a hotbed for rock 'n' roll nightlife. Banks probably won't be hiring many around-the-clock partyers, but they're aware that jobs aren't the only thing that make a city desirable for workers. Though he isn't all that familiar with the Manchester music scene, BoNY's Monks gives a nod to its value: "It certainly helps that people want to live there."