Entrepreneur of year accolade for man behind port project

THE businessman behind plans to create a major port and logistics facility on the south bank of the Humber was last night named Ernst & Young's North and Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year.

Peter Stephenson, executive chairman of Teesside-based Able UK, believes the project, which is already underway, could create 5,000 jobs and attract 1.5bn of inward investment. It includes plans for a deep-water quay, which could support the manufacture, assembly and installation of offshore wind turbines at the 1,500-acre site.

This would put Able UK in a strong position to capitalise on the project to build thousands of wind turbines in the North Sea, which is the subject of a Yorkshire Post campaign.

The campaign, Powering Yorkshire's Future, aims to ensure the region reaps the full economic benefits of the massive expansion of offshore wind farms.

Judges described 63-year-old Mr Stephenson, who founded the business from college in 1966, as "a master entrepreneur" who has had a long and distinguished career.

Stuart Watson of Ernst & Young said: "Entrepreneurs, like Peter, play a vital role in driving the UK's economic recovery by creating wealth and employment." Able UK is best known for its work on so-called ghost ships after winning contracts from the British, American and French governments to dismantle former naval vessels.

Mr Stephenson, who lives in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, was picked from among 15 business leaders who were all named regional winners at the Manchester event.

All 15, including three from Leeds, will now go on to compete in the UK finals in October this year.

Sean O'Connor, of Clean Energy Capital, was named cleantech entrepreneur of the year. Judges noted the 29-year-old's skill in "identifying a profitable market sector and leveraging his position to exploit every possible opportunity".

His company has raised more than 60m to develop low-carbon projects and anticipates profit this year of 3m. Adam Hildreth, of Crisp Thinking, was named e-commerce entrepreneur of the year. Judges said his business has "astonishing potential" and commended him as "a great delegator and team player with a huge vision".

Crisp Thinking creates technology to protect children and other users in online games. The analytic technology is now used by worldwide game publishers.

Tim Whitworth, of Republic, was named retail entrepreneur of the year. Judges described him as "an impressive leader who has built a great team and a great business with strong turnover and profit growth".

The company sells multi-branded men's and women's fashion and has a turnover of 200m.

Judges included David Rashce, chairman of SSP, Dean Hoyle, chairman of the Card Factory, and Mark Abrahams, chief executive of Fenner.

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