Dave Baldwin writes the ‘Just one more thing’ column for the January issue of Bradford Means Business magazine.
I can’t think of a better name for a magazine and website. From our industrial heritage at the heart of the global wool trade to our new title as Britain’s most improved city, Bradford Means Business in so many ways. This year and next, we will be aiming to add another designation to our district: UK City of Culture.
The successes we have enjoyed in recent months and years show what can be achieved when everyone’s noses are pointing in the same direction. It’s an approach we strongly believe in at the Bradford Economic Partnership. We have a clear vision to grow the economy, increase the number of jobs and improve the skills of our people. With our mantra of minimum requirement, maximum effort, we are making great progress.
Don’t just take my word for it. A record-breaking reduction in unemployment and strong growth in skills saw Bradford crowned top improver in the highly regarded Good Growth for Cities report from influential think tank Demos and Big Four accountancy firm PwC. The annual study singled out Bradford for the largest improvement in the jobs score of any UK city between 2015 and 2018 with unemployment falling from 10 per cent to 4.1 per cent. It also revealed how more than 43 per cent of adults held at least an NVQ level 3 qualification in 2018, compared to 39 per cent in 2015.
As regular readers of Bradford Means Business will know, we have a dynamic business community populated with a rich variety of commercially successful and innovative companies from start-ups and kitchen table enterprises to scale-ups and market leaders. Entrepreneurs feel at home here. Global banking giant Barclays named Bradford as the best place in Britain to start a business, according to 12 key growth factors such as business rate relief, infrastructure, broadband speed and labour productivity.
Word is spreading and notable names are signing up for our success story. PwC chose Bradford for its new national assurance centre, creating 225 new professional jobs in the city centre. NEC Group, the UK’s leading live events business, has taken over the Odeon to create a 4,000-capacity venue, Bradford Live. Muse Developments, the urban renewal specialist, will bring forward a major new Grade A office building at City Park to support Bradford Council’s wider regeneration of the city centre.
It’s not just an economic story. Bradford is filled with creative talent. Home-grown arts organisations including England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, Bradford Literature Festival, female-led theatre collective Common Wealth, intercultural arts hub Kala Sangam, Bradford Community Broadcasting, Freedom Studios and an exciting new generation of cultural voices are successfully engaging new audiences. Not to mention Channel 4 citing Bradford’s young, diverse and digitally-savvy communities in its decision to move its national HQ to West Yorkshire. Hence our bid to host UK City of Culture in 2025.
Bradford still faces many difficult challenges. We need Government to invest in key infrastructure such as Northern Powerhouse Rail with a Bradford Central station. But with a clear vision – to grow the economy, create new jobs and improve skills in our district – and everyone’s noses pointing in the same direction, we can give more young people the chance to succeed in life, whatever their background. I invite business leaders to get involved in whatever way they can to help us achieve our vision, whether that’s investing in their companies, taking time to support initiatives like Bradford Manufacturing Weeks or spreading the word about the good things happening here in our district. That will help show everyone that Bradford Means Business.