BOLTON has good transport connections, a good pool of workers and a good cultural scene including the renowned Octagon Theatre.

According to Angie Robinson, chief executive of MIDAS, the inward investment agency for the 10 towns within Greater Manchester, the town also has a strong sense of identity.

She was speaking at the Bolton professional curry club which met for lunch yesterday at Spice Valley in the Valley.

The club which was set up last year as a joint enterprise by KBL solicitors and RSM Tenon in order to provide a convivial quarterly talking shop for Bolton-based business professionals.

The MIDAS boss outlined how MIDAS, despite having its Government funding slashed by more than half, was helping bring in new investment from American and European companies.

Over the last five years MIDAS has created 24,000 jobs from 437 projects in Greater Manchester, according to Mrs Robinson.

She said Bolton already has some very good employers such as Warburtons, Stateside Foods, MBDA, AXA, RBS and E.on who provide thousands of people with work.

And companies like Watson Steel in Lostock and Leighs Paints in Bolton had achieved global recognition through their products and their links to the Olympic Games in 2012.

She said: “Bolton is a relatively self-contained authority with 66.8 per cent of local residents choosing to work here.

“What is important is that we offer the local residents, and those further afield, opportunities to spend their hard earned cash within the local economy.”

But she added: “There’s also the issue of skills. Compared to other areas of Greater Manchester Bolton has a relatively low skills base meaning its residents are unable to take full advantage of the high value employment opportunities that we are trying to secure.”

Also in Bolton’s favour were good local, national and international transport links with excellent motorway links to the M61 and to more than 220 destinations to the rest of the world.

Mrs Robinson said that it was not just up to the public sector but that private employers were key contributors to the wealth of the local economy.

She said: What we need are business ambassadors, people who can champion what we are trying to achieve.

“We need you to tell the story of the services we can offer to companies and the warm welcome they will receive if and when they land.”

The professionals’ curry club is both useful for networking and to listen to guest speakers’ opinions on the world of business and finance and how Bolton can benefit.

For many business people the quarterly meeting is a great way to meet contemporaries they might only see infrequently and to discuss a variety of business opportunities.

The membership is selective and those invited to attend are usually partners, decision makers or senior managers in a variety of local professions.

At the moment the club is open to bankers, accountants, solicitors, independent financial advisers, insolvency practitioners, estate agents, commercial property agents and developers.Representatives from Bolton Council, including regeneration and development director Keith Davies and chef executive Sean Harriss, often attend.

Guest speakers have included Robert Hough from the North West Development Agency, Keith Davies and Sean Harriss from Bolton Council and The Bolton News editor-in-chief Ian Savage.