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Helen Simpson OBE

Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Main Board

This has been a remarkable period for our region. Remarkable in some ways that have been sad and challenging for individuals and for businesses, but also remarkable, as we have discovered together the impact that the Yorkshire spirit of resilience, community mindedness and sheer tenacity. Yorkshire people are amazing, especially when we work together to deliver innovation and hope for the future in our region. This report shares some of the work we have done together and I hope you enjoy it.

Clear economic strategy, enabled by a clear business voice, has successfully secured funding.  Over the last eleven years the LEP, working with partners and businesses, has secured over £240m of funding into York & North Yorkshire.  I am proud of our track record of delivering projects and programmes on time and on budget.

Businesses have shared with us the urgent need to attract talented and ambitious young people, so we have worked together to address this and help businesses innovate and grow. Our Careers Hub ranks as one of the best performing in England and connects every high school in the region to businesses through Enterprise Advisors, who help raise their aspirations. Digital skills are key, so this year we will launch a £2m Skills Bootcamps programme – part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, helping everyone gain skills for life. The programme covers a range of skills training including digital, manufacturing and green skills.

The LEP, with a great range of heritage and culture partners, has led on work about historic assets and how they can contribute to economic growth. This can be seen in action in the investments that we have made in local heritage assets, such as the Treadmills site in Northallerton (with Hambleton and C4Di) and the Guildhall in York, (with the City of York and the University of York). It is exciting to see these historic buildings start to deliver new life into the economy, as creative spaces for business incubators and educators.

Our business support service, the York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub, continues to reach more businesses every year. Business relationship managers advise and mentor businesses one-to-one on issues, for example, how to get started on decarbonisation.  Successful partnerships with local authorities, as in Craven and Scarborough, and with York St John University in York, are supporting the Growth Hub team to get to know and support local business communities better.  Our recent focus on the ‘Invest in York & North Yorkshire’ is looking good in developing a region-wide collaboration to drive up investment into key sectors, as we support the best businesses to find their home here.

York & North Yorkshire has the aspiration to be England’s first carbon negative region. If the UK is going to achieve Net Zero, as a largely rural geography, we have to be carbon negative. The LEP team have been working with broad, cross sector partnerships to develop a route-map to carbon negative that can tell us how we can get there, and crucially, where the economic opportunity lies, for example that carbon negative energy generation can reduce the cost of energy and put money back into businesses and households. This has secured funds from the Community Renewal Fund to produce Local Area Energy Plans to identify long-term strategic approaches to local decarbonisation challenges.

Our Getting Building Fund allocation of £15.4m, awarded in 2020, has successfully completed, with some significant projects that deliver locally across the region. One example is the town centre WI-FI roll out in 18 of the region’s towns, which we have been delighted to support with over £3.5m. We are excited to share updates from some of our past Local Growth Fund projects within this report and show you how they are delivering impact.

There are significant changes happening in our region, in North Yorkshire as they undergo reorganisation to form a single unitary for North Yorkshire and for York & North Yorkshire on Devolution. The LEP team are working hard to support these developments and we are excited for the future.

We are also working in partnership to support major strategic programmes that can drive future growth and offer significant potential to boost the region’s economy, including:

  • York Central  - the reinvigoration of a key brownfield site in the heart of York,
  • BioYorkshire - a ten year programme to accelerate the translation and application of research discoveries into full scale biotechnology applications.
  • Grow Yorkshire and work with local nature partnerships to unleash the potential of our rural powerhouse
  • Building capacity and enabling growth in existing businesses, especially in food and farming and in the visitor economy.

Underpinned by strategic analysis of where the best prospects for economic growth can be found these innovations are putting our region on the map with investors and with government.

It has been a joy to get to know so many York and North Yorkshire people this year. Thank you to the LEP Board members and particularly to Peter Emery and David Dickson (Deputy Chairs), Sue Jefferson and Sam Alexander (Chairs of the Business and Skills Sub-Boards) and all the members who serve on them. Also to our public sector leaders, including North Yorkshire, the City of York and all Districts Councils, as well as our many partner organisations, particularly our great businesses, universities and colleges, business networks and charities. Finally a massive thankyou to James Farrar, our Chief Operating Officer and all of his team at the LEP. Thank you for your knowledge, passion, commitment and sheer hard work.