Growth funding available

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a new service to help ambitious small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the region grow and create jobs.

The new LEP growth service – launched at an event at the Google Digital Garage today – will act as a one-stop-shop for information about the support and funding available to SMEs in Leeds City Region that have the ambition and potential to grow.

Significant government-funded support is available to businesses in Leeds City Region, however the LEP’s research shows that businesses often don’t know what is on offer or how to access it. The LEP is looking to address this by providing a single point of contact to help SMEs find the right support to achieve their growth ambitions including business finance, export, innovation, skills including leadership and management.

The aim is to help 20,000 SMEs grow and prosper in the region over the next six years.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP said: “Helping business and enterprise to thrive is at the heart of our long-term plan to transform the Leeds City Region Economy. SMEs make up 99% of our business community: if they grow, our region will grow too.

“We know that businesses are often unaware of the support available to help them develop or unsure how to get started. Our new growth service has been created for small and medium-sized businesses as a single point of contact to help them explore and identify the right support for them and simplify the journey.

“Whether you are looking for funding, skills and training, export advice or digital skills, support is available and we at the LEP can help you find it.”

Eric Hawthorn, MD of Radio Design and LEP Board member shared his experiences with the business audience and encouraged other businesses to take advantage of support to grow more quickly. He said: “Having grown Radio Design from a start-up in 2007 to a large business employing 300 globally, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to find the right support at the right time. That’s why I’m delighted to have played a role in shaping this new service, which will make it easier for other businesses to reach their growth potential.

“We are fortunate to have a strong network of partners in the region, all working together in our shared interests to support small businesses and ensure our economy thrives. This new service will be essential in pulling together this support so that growth is made as simple as possible for the 100,000-plus SMEs that are the backbone of our economy.”

Leeds Chamber’s longest serving president steps down

Leeds Chamber held a special lunch on 20thMarch to celebrate the successes of outgoing president, Nigel Foster and to welcome new president Gerald Jennings. The Chamber also announced the appointment of Vice-President, Paula Dillon, Partner at Bond Dickinson.

Nigel Foster, Director at transport planning business Fore Consulting, has served as Leeds Chamber president for four years providing stability through challenging economic times and a period of significant change at the Chamber including the merger with Bradford Chamber.

Nigel has actively represented the business community and been its voice on many key issues over recent years. He has been highly influential in bringing HS2 to Yorkshire; worked with fellow members to bring Network Rail into discussions for major investment proposals for Leeds Railway Station and led conversations around Leeds South Bank and the Flood Alleviation Scheme. Outside the Chamber Nigel is a governor at the University of Leeds and also a visiting professor on transport strategy.

Nigel said: “It has been a tremendous honour to serve as president of the Chamber of Commerce in Leeds, my home city.  I am very grateful for the support I have received from numerous businesses and individuals in the city, the City Council and my colleagues at the Chamber.  I know I am leaving this role in good hands with our new president Gerald Jennings and his vice president, Paula Dillon.  My passion for a successful Leeds remains undiminished and will continue to support our efforts to assist the business community and help to ensure that the benefits are spread to all parts of the city.”

Gerald, currently portfolio director at Land Securities will take over presidential duties. He is best known for being the force behind the hugely successful Trinity Leeds development and will represent the Chamber and its members in Leeds.

He said: “On behalf of the Chamber I’d like to thank Nigel for his enormous contribution as Leeds Chamber president. Nigel has been instrumental in bringing forward ideas to improve the city and I’m looking forward to continuing the great work he’s carried out and building on his successes. Nigel has helped put the Chamber in a position to contribute to the continuing successful future for Leeds and the wider region. I believe the Chamber is key to that future as the voice of the business community”

West & North Yorkshire Chamber chief executive Sandy Needham who attended the lunch where Nigel was presented with a commemorative plaque, said: “Nigel has served the Leeds Chamber with great enthusiasm and commitment over the last four years and he leaves a strong legacy for incoming president Gerald Jennings. I am also delighted that Paula Dillon has accepted the vice-presidency. As we move into a new era of devolution it is vital that the Chamber’s membership has representation from such a  high calibre team as Gerald and Paula and I look forward to working with both over the next two years..”

Bond Dickinson’s Paula Dillon will become vice-president of Leeds Chamber and support Gerald in his new role.

Leeds should feel optimistic says business presenter

Leeds Chamber’s Annual Dinner, sponsored by SaBRE, took place last week with over 300 business leaders in attendance. The Dinner was the last for outgoing President Nigel Foster, with Vice President, Gerald Jennings, Portfolio Director of Land Securities taking over the reins this Spring.

Leeds Chamber is part of West and North Yorkshire Chamber which includes Bradford Chamber together with York & North Yorkshire Chamber. The event attracted business people from across the region.

Guest speaker business journalist, Declan Curry painted a mixed picture for the global and local economy stating that sustained recovery will be hampered by European debt both personal and government however, Leeds should feel optimistic as it’s balanced economy and its potential to collaborate and export puts the city in a strong position.

Nigel Foster reflected on his four year tenure as President and said he was proud to have seen significant progress in the City, in particular the creation of Leeds’ first university technical college (UTC) which shows the city’s commitment to invest in skills and manufacturing.

Entertainment was provided by comedian and writer, Steve Punt, who ensured that regardless of the European predicament all guests left the evening with a smile on their faces.

The evening included a charity auction for prizes donated by The Grand Hotel & Spa, Trinity Leeds, White Rose Shopping Centre, Land Securities and The Queens. A total of £2,305.50 was raised for Leeds Chamber’s charity of the year, Leeds Mind.

Pic1: Declan Curry, Richard Lenton (Regional SaBRE Campaign Director), Nigel Foster and Steve Punt

Chamber Environment Advisor will help businesses make money saving improvements

Elin Pheasant has been appointed as the new Environment Advisor for West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. Elin’s role will involve working with local experts and stakeholders to help Chamber and Eco-Network members tap into the technical guidance, products and services they might need to make environmental improvements in their businesses.

Elin, who originally started her career with the Chamber back in 2002, has been helping businesses to find ways to increase their profits by making efficiency improvements for over 12 years. She has managed and delivered resource efficiency support to organisations across the UK through the Envirowise programme and more recently through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Her experience includes delivering projects focused on waste prevention, water efficiency and capacity building, as well as providing one-to-one advice to businesses on increasing profits and reducing their environmental impact.

Elin will be organising the ECO-FAIR 2015, which is the largest business to business environmental event in the north of England, taking place next year on 18th June. She will work with technical experts and partners to host a major exhibition and a full day of free seminars which cover a broad range of environmental topics including environmental legislation, energy, material and water efficiency, staff engagement and more.

Elin, who will be based in Bradford and will also cover Leeds, York and North Yorkshire said: “It’s great to be back at the Chamber. I’m looking forward to working with businesses across the area and helping them implement improvements and also making ECO FAIR 2015 the best event yet!”

Elin can be reached on 01274 206664 or via email

A boost for manufacturing skills in Leeds

Today (5th August) the Department for Education has announced that it will approve the creation of University Technical College (UTC) in Leeds. The Leeds UTC is an academy school which accommodates pupils from age 14 to 18 providing traditional GCSE and A levels but with an additional focus on advanced manufacturing and engineering. The project which has been led by Kodak UK, Agfa, Unilever, Siemens and Grant Thornton with support from Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, Leeds City College and the Leeds Chamber of Commerce. It is in response to a need by industry for more young people to consider manufacturing and engineering and ensure they are better prepared to apply for the variety of careers which exist across the sector.

Speaking about the announcement Phil Ball, Managing Director of Kodak UK and the Leeds UTC steering group chair said: “This really is great news for Leeds and the start of a new journey for education provision in the city. The manufacturing sector faces a crisis as it prepares to replace skills which are set to be lost due to retirements over the next decade, at the same time we are seeing renewed confidence from companies seeking to invest in our region. If we are to service this demand then we have to take steps to address these skills challenges.

The interest and support we have received from companies across the city has been exceptional and the Department for Education clearly saw this in our application. UTC’s offer a unique blend of traditional education combined with industry led projects and challenges set in real world scenarios and are highly responsive to the needs of employers. I am looking forward to seeing this institution established in Leeds for the benefit of businesses and future generations of young people.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I welcome the UTC being established in Leeds. With our commitment to being a Child Friendly City, where all young people have the best possible experiences and best possible opportunity to have successful and fulfilling lives, the UTC will provide an extra, different approach to the range of education and learning available in the city.

“Advanced manufacturing and engineering are specialisms identified as a priority for Leeds City Region and a key employment sector in the local economy. Preparing young people for successful and enriching careers in these sectors will help further our Child Friendly City and Best Council ambitions and the UTC will be a significant development in the education infrastructure of the city.”

The UTC bid received fantastic support from the education sector and from industry leaders who all recognised the role this new institution could play in developing and preparing young people.

Speaking about the announcement Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “Engineering and advanced manufacturing is one of the most dynamic and important sectors of the economy in the Leeds City Region.  It is vital that we equip young people – boys and girls – with the skills they need for employment in this sector. The Royal Academy of Engineering has backed the concept of University Technical Colleges and the new college in Leeds will draw on a strong partnership between local industry leaders, Leeds City College, Leeds City Council and the University, to provide exciting new educational opportunities for 14-18 year-olds interested in engineering. The Faculty of Engineering at the University will advise on curriculum development and provide opportunities for UTC students to access specialist equipment and expertise in the course of their studies.”

Peter Roberts, CEO and Principal of Leeds City College, responded to the news also saying: “The (Leeds City) College is pleased to have been involved in the Steering Group in support of the UTC bid process.  We look forward to working collaboratively with the UTC in the future.”

Graham Cooper, Site Manager at Agfa Graphics in Leeds and a Director of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber, commented: “Manufacturing and engineering account for over 40,000 jobs in Leeds, it is a significant contributor to the local economy. In the Manufacturing sector there are many opportunities available for young people with the skills and aptitude to succeed and these opportunities will grow in future years. The UTC will provide a vital and much needed pipeline of talented young engineers into this highly competitive sector. ‘Made in Great Britain’ still has credibility around the globe and we must ensure we have the talent to continue the tradition.”

The plans will see the UTC take in its first batch of students in September 2016.

New campaign calls for more powers and better funding for Leeds

  • Three-quarters of people in marginal seats support more powers for local government to effect change in their area
  • Think Leeds launches today as part of a nationwide campaign, which will run until the General Election in May 2015
  • The campaign calls for more powers and fiscal freedoms to be devolved to Leeds, to boost prosperity, economic growth and improve standards of living

Think Leeds launches today as part of a national campaign ahead of the General Election in 2015, which argues that sustained national economic growth requires more powerful and better funded cities.

The campaign responds to the growing consensus and ambition across the political spectrum in favour of greater local devolution in England. It makes the case that cities need more control over how they raise and spend money, and that cities need more control over the big decisions that affect the lives of those who live and work there.

Leeds is one of the country’s strongest performing large cities, with a thriving professional services sector. But unemployment remains a concern throughout the city-region, with one in ten people holding no formal qualifications at all, and only half obtaining A*-C GCSEs. Leeds needs more power and control over funding to prioritise skills improvements and create more effective and efficient inter-city transport to link more people to jobs. Leeds has significant untapped potential and should be playing a bigger role in the national economy, but we must ensure it holds the powers and tools to unleash the opportunities it promises for the city and its surrounding areas.

For all major parties, the tide of public opinion calling for greater empowerment of cities is becoming too loud to ignore. Exclusive polling conducted by ComRes found that 73% of people in marginal seats would support greater powers for local government in their area, whilst only 33% of people think their local government currently has sufficient tools and powers to boost local economies. With nearly two thirds of key marginal seats in city-regions, no political party can afford to disregard the momentum building for change. Think Leeds seizes on this opportunity, to make the case to politicians and policy-makers to give Leeds a greater say in shaping its future.

It is vital that more is done to ensure that local leaders have the powers necessary to really drive change and deliver economic prosperity in Leeds. The platform unites city leaders from across the country to make the case for their cities. The campaign is already gaining traction, drawing a high number of influential national politicians, city leaders, key thinkers and policy-makers from across the country, to add their voice to the call for change.

Nigel Foster, President, Leeds Chamber of Commerce said:

“Think Leeds is bringing together key voices from across the city to make the case for more powers and freedoms at a local level ahead of the next General Election.”

“Over the next 10 months, we will be lobbying politicians across Leeds and in Westminster, to make sure that the next Government ‘Thinks Leeds’after the next election. Only through better funding and more local authority powers will Leeds be able to unlock the huge growth potential that exists within the city – for the benefit of the people who live here, and the UK’s future economic growth.”

New Vice-President appointed for York & North Yorkshire Chamber

York & North Yorkshire Chamber has appointed Edward Everard as its new Vice-President.

Ed will support President, Suzanne Burnett in the Chamber’s representing and lobbying work on behalf of local business. He will also deputise for Suzanne including chairing the York and North Yorkshire Chamber Leadership Group and in media relations.

Ed is sales and marketing director of York technology specialist Saville Audio Visual.  He was born in York and after a number of jobs started with John Saville and Sons photographic shop in Goodramgate in 1970. He quickly transferred to the audio visual side of the business, initially in sales then sales management to become MD of one of the company’s first regional offices in Hull in 1981. Ed moved back to York, joining the main board in 1986 and was part of the team which completed a management buyout from the Saville family in 1996.

A passionate perfectionist, his successful sales and marketing career in the hi-tech professional audio visual market has helped Saville to build a turnover in excess of £40m and a unique nationwide network of offices, winning 29 national industry awards in the past 14 years.

Speaking about the Chamber and his new role, Ed says: “Life has been good to me. I’ve worked hard but also been really lucky to have been given many opportunities to develop my career. There is firm evidence the truly awful recession is now behind us and I’m keen to do my bit for the local economy, especially helping new start-ups to develop and prosper. I feel privileged to have been invited to work more closely with the Chamber.”

Suzanne Burnett added: “We are delighted to have Ed on board. He has a great deal of business experience and will be a great asset to the Chamber. I look forward to working with him over coming months. This is an exciting time for York & North Yorkshire Chamber following the merger with Bradford Chamber and we are looking forward to the new opportunities this will bring for businesses in the area.”

York & North Yorkshire Chamber is part of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber provides opportunity to shine spotlight on your business

Leeds Chamber is inviting businesses in the area to a meet and greet event on 25th June 2014 giving them a chance to spotlight their business in a 30 second pitch. The event will also provide an opportunity to find out more about Chamber services and network with other local business people.

Leeds Chamber is part of the new West & North Yorkshire Chamber which was formed in February following the merger of Bradford Chamber and Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber.

The free event, open to members and non-members will show what’s on offer to businesses to help them grow and make savings through services provided by the Chamber. In addition business owners and managers will have a chance to meet the Chamber team and key service providers. For those who don’t mind the spotlight there will also be a chance to promote their services to other guests in a 30 second elevator pitch on their business.

Nigel Foster, president of the Leeds Chamber said: “We’re a stronger Chamber now with a greater reach and this ‘after work’ event will give people a chance to find out more about the benefits of being involved with us with information on the wide variety of ways we can support businesses. We think people will be surprised when they realise just how much is on offer.

“It’s also an opportunity for current Chamber members to re-connect and make the most of their relationship with us and with other businesses.”

The event is sponsored by Bond Dickinson and takes place at 1 Whitehall Riverside in Leeds from 4 to 6pm.

Details are available on the Chamber website and app, or by calling the Chamber events team on 0113 247 0000, email

Chamber calls for dualling of Outer Ring Road

York & North Yorkshire Chamber Head, Susie Cawood said:

“The Chamber is delighted that the City of York Council has listened to public opinion and is re-opening Lendal Bridge to cars. Our members have been very vociferous in their condemnation of this trial and will be relieved that they will not be hindered by idealistic transport strategies and can get on with doing business and creating wealth in the economy as well as providing jobs.

“We recognise the need for the City Council to address York’s increasing transport congestion challenges in line with the city’s growth and look forward to having some input into the commission the council is setting up to review these challenges.

“Indeed if the City of York Council is serious about reducing city centre congestion, the money needs to finally be found and the outer ring road made into a dual carriageway.

“York has a great deal to be positive about, its economy is one of the most resilient in the UK and there will be a unique  opportunity to advertise the region for both investment and tourism when images of York & North Yorkshire are broadcast around the world in July during the Tour de France.

“It’s now time to put this trial behind us and concentrate on the future development, growth and success of York and the wider region.”

Positivity continues amongst businesses says Chamber survey

Confidence amongst businesses in the region remains high according to the latest survey results from West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. The survey for the first quarter of 2014 was conducted during February and March, and provides an indication of business conditions and trends. 900 businesses were surveyed across Leeds, Bradford, York and North Yorkshire.

The survey highlighted further growth amongst service sector businesses both domestic activity and overseas trade across large parts of the region. Confidence is also improving amongst manufacturers with 50% reporting recruitment activity in the last three months, although finding the right talent is still proving difficult especially for skilled manual and technical staff.

The survey of business owners and directors showed however that concerns over business rates and increased competition remained key for business in our region.

Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy said: “The year has got off to a good start but more needs to be done to ensure a ‘great’ recovery. Issues such as energy costs, access to finance and access to talent still need to be addressed. The manufacturing sector is a hugely important sector to this region with the value of exports out of Yorkshire & Humber at £17.5bn last year. We must ensure they have access to the widest possible talent base. The Chamber will continue to work with policy makers, local authorities and education providers to ensure there is sufficient interest generated amongst young people, parents, schools and teachers about the opportunities a manufacturing career can offer.”