Why investing in Yorkshire will always generate handsome returns - Greg Wright

The Excellence in Business awards honour world class enterprisesThe Excellence in Business awards honour world class enterprises
The Excellence in Business awards honour world class enterprises
In these turbulent times, it is easy to become overwhelmed with a sense of despair.

The pandemic shows no signs of easing and the threat of further lockdowns remains.

But the success of companies who have earned a place on the shortlist for The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards should place a spring in our collective stride.

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During Friday’s four hour judging session, I had the privilege of analysing the aspirations and achievements of companies which have continued to focus on growth during the worst crisis this country has faced in peace time.

We are immensely grateful to our wonderful sponsors who have spent the summer promoting the Excellence in Business Awards to ensure we have a bumper crop of entries.

Headline sponsorship this year comes from Addleshaw Goddard, Grant Thornton and Virgin Money and we are also delighted to have secured associate sponsorship from Ernest Wilson and Openreach.

It’s the first time I’ve acted as chairman for the judging session and I was deeply impressed with how seriously the judges took their responsibilities.

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Many had gone out on site to hold (socially-distanced) meetings with the entrepreneurs who had submitted entries.

In the virtual age, you still can’t beat the thrill of visiting a factory, office or laboratory.

Every firm on the shortlist has taken great pains to keep their staff and customers safe, while seeking new business opportunities in the face of relentlessly grim corporate news.

During the judging session, I kept asking myself a single question: “What do these firms have in common?”

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If you study the shortlist you might initially believe that many of these firms had very little in common.

Some are fast growing tech firms, while others are family businesses which have been stalwarts of the region’s business world for centuries.

A number are truly global giants, while others are tiny firms with big dreams.

But what are the ties that bind them? Are they brave? Unquestionably. Do they display a capacity to deliver a carefully crafted strategy under intense pressure? Undoubtedly.

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But there was something else they all shared. They have a belief that enterprise is a force for good.

All the firms on the shortlist want to support Yorkshire as an economic powerhouse.

They want to create long term, sustainable jobs that provide a boost for their entire neighbourhood.

In turn, this growth - combined with our world class universities - will attract talent from outside our region as the world finally emerges from the dark cloud cast by the pandemic.

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Work patterns may have changed forever, with fewer people willing to commute on overcrowded trains after they gain a taste for working from home.

But the need for visionaries and innovators will be stronger than ever in the post-pandemic world.

Yorkshire’s economic success was not forged by timid men and women.

The greatest companies have been born during times of conflict and recession.

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While the world’s attention is - quite reasonably - focused on the pandemic, another Microsoft or Google could be born in Yorkshire.

It’s possible that one of the firms on the shortlist for The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards 2020 will go on to become a household name.

Our finest leaders also share another, perhaps unexpected quality. That is a deep humility combined with respect for the people around them.

They value their staff and invest in their future. These employees, repay them with years of loyal service.

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Most of our life is spent at work, which is why promoting excellence in business is good for the mental health and wellbeing of millions of people.

Our awards shine a light on the engine room of Britain’s economy and underline why investment in Yorkshire will always deliver handsome returns.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson

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