LEP Column: Week-long showcase for all that’s best about our region

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Business Week is another Humber success story. Now in its 11th year, the event has just got bigger and better.

This year we have more than 70 events in locations across the Humber from Driffield to Brigg, Goole to Withernsea, and Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Hull are buzzing with networking events, showcase activities and information exchanges. The week reaches its grand finale with the Yorkshire International Business Convention (YIBC) in Bridlington.

It’s also my 11th Business Week, and as chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s business development board, I am proud that the LEP is the 2015 sponsor.

Over the last three years, through its collaborative structure, the LEP has provided the strategic leadership to drive business growth across the Humber, and we are starting to reap the benefits with more inward investments, business expansion and more people in work and training.

This has coincided with the political will to rebalance the UK economy with the creation of a Northern Powerhouse with more devolved powers and investment, and our region will be at the heart of that Powerhouse.

However, the region has recently been through some tough times.

The legacy of the decline in traditional industries was taking its toll on the Humber’s economy in the latter part of the last century as Britain changed into a post-industrial economy. The area found itself at the wrong end of just about every league table rating going – for productivity, employment, education, average earnings and more.

To counter low morale and negative perceptions about the Humber, some of us felt we needed a focus which could unite, enthuse and offer a platform to all businesses, and, importantly, offer an insight to the economic potential of our region.

And so, the Humber Business Week was conceived from small beginnings in 2004. Last year Humber Business week had more than 6,000 visitors.

In terms of geographical spread and wide range of activities, the Humber Business Week is unique in the UK because it is organised by business for businesses and credit must go to Kath Lavery and her team at the Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation, who took over the organisation of Business Week, for their hard work in building the event into such a popular and successful event.

The diversity of the events programme is only equalled by the diversity of their organisers and participants.

Every type of business, large and small, is involved from multi-nationals based in our area, education and the digital sector to small businesses and social enterprises.

Visitors can sharpen their financial brains with the Investment Games, learn about cyber security, celebrate on the UK’s most successful “Skills Support for the Workforce” programmes; find out more about the offshore wind industry; see the best of business exhibitions and much more, including a lively and entertaining fringe programme.

The networking value of the week’s events cannot be underestimated or quantified. At Business Week it is both informal and via managed events.

Personally, I am in no doubt that informal networking helps integration into the professional community and can enhance understanding of your own business in a wider context.

Business Week is a great opportunity to receive intelligent insights from some of the leading professionals and entrepreneurs, which I’ve always found motivating for personal as well as professional growth.

This year there is no shortage of inspirational speakers from former supermarket boss Sir Ken Morrison; James Sproule of the Institute of Directors; and Martin Green, chief executive of Hull City of Culture 2017 to TV presenter Ken Hames, who specialises in adventure challenges, and Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Business Week is the Humber’s flagship event to showcase our businesses, our vision and the potential of our unique area.

It has developed a global attraction, especially among international companies wanting to be part of our Energy Estuary.

Whether you are a multi-national company or a local sole trader, you will find that the Humber Business Week is inspirational, educational and a good place to do business.

Find out more about Humber Business Week, which takes place 1-5 June, at: www.humberbusinessweek.co.uk. In its 11th year, it showcases the wealth of talent, entrepreneurship, vision and potential of the region.

Look out for big ideas at forum

Humber LEP Forum and Annual Review takes place at the KC Stadium on June 4. Its speakers include LEP chair Lord Haskins, James Sproule (IOD) and Prof Chris Bovis, Hull University. Places are free and bookable on Eventbrite http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/humber-lep-forum.

See the LEP as North Lincolnshire Expo, Chamber Expo and YIBC. Hear LEP speakers at North Lincolnshire Expo and Hull University. Give us your Big Idea to help businesses grow at YIBC. Look out for young job seekers in their distinctive yellow T-shirts getting work experience at LEP events learning how to network with business.