Minimum requirement, maximum effort. That’s the approach I said we would be taking at the launch of Bradford’s economic growth strategy in March 2018. I said we wanted to create a movement in Bradford and make sure everyone is pointing in the same direction because getting this right means we can add £4bn to the district economy, create 20,000 new jobs and improve the skills of nearly 50,000 residents by 2030.
Exactly one year after launch, the Bradford Economic Partnership will be sharing with invited guests the strong progress our district has made in attracting new investors, starting up and scaling up businesses, building new partnerships and bringing more people into the workforce.
Twelve months on, we want to celebrate our achievements to date, including the birth of 4,127 businesses in 2018, or 15 new start-ups every working day, and the identification of 48 high growth scale-ups in Bradford; a jobs boom of 6,500 new roles (based on latest available figures), all created by our enterprising private sector, representing a rise of nearly 5 per cent; breaking the 20,000 barrier in the number of BME women in employment, almost double the amount since 2010; and an inflation-busting seven per cent increase in average weekly workplace earnings to £488 in 2018.
Beyond these eye-catching headlines, we have staged inspirational events such as Bradford Manufacturing Week and Bradford Literature Festival, welcomed new names to the district and wider city region such as a professional services giant and the national broadcaster Channel 4, and convened local businesses for the truly inspirational Bradford Business Improvement District.
In a challenging year for the wider UK economy, our strategy is taking us in the right direction and that is testament to the strong partnerships we are building across the public and private sector. Hats off to Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe and CEO Kersten England and their team at Bradford Council, colleagues at the Bradford Economic Partnership, the Bradford Chamber of Commerce and business community, our educational institutions, our charities and our arts organisations.
Mike Cartwright, policy and representation executive at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Many businesses in Bradford were involved in the preparatory work ahead of the launch of the economic strategy, and so they will be interested in hearing about the changes since then. It’s been a difficult 12 months for many firms, and that uncertainty and trepidation that has grown in recent months may well continue for some time.
“All the more reason to give businesses and other communities the best assurances we can and support them in the best possible way. And that’s what the strategy does. It helps set out a framework for the district to realise its potential and seize its opportunities. It was created as a joint effort, and the objectives will be achieved jointly too.
“Whether that’s highlighting the opportunities in manufacturing for young people, lobbying for better transport connectivity across the North, or simply helping to sustain an environment in which business can thrive, the Chamber is happy to be a part of Bradford’s Economic Partnership.”
Mr Cartwright added: “Despite the ongoing uncertainty and the repeated challenges facing businesses today, it’s pleasing to note the great strides made by the district over the last 12 months. An exceptional increase in start-ups, job growth happening at an excellent rate and weekly earnings increasing at far above the inflation rate are just some of the outstanding markers that next month’s celebratory event will herald – and rightly so, too. We have lots of good news to shout about.”
Bradford Economic Strategy +365 Days takes place on March 6 in Keighley and guests will be hearing from Cllr Hinchcliffe and myself about how our young and enterprising population, distinctive offer, growth potential and global connections are helping to make meaningful progress against our ambitious growth targets. They’ll also be hearing me repeat my mantra of minimum requirement, maximum effort. I suspect it’s going to be another challenging 12 months but with everyone pointing in the same direction, you’ll be surprised what we can achieve by working together.
You can read the full Bradford Economic Partnership annual report HERE
• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club