Firms are urged to go global to reap rewards

HUNDREDS of Yorkshire entrepreneurs were urged to seek business opportunities around the world at one of the region’s biggest networking events.

Delegates and visitors at the Yorkshire Business Market were told that “tough times don’t last, but tough people do” during a rousing speech by Simon Cotton, the president of Harrogate Chamber of Trade & Commerce.

Despite the bleak economic climate, this year’s Yorkshire Business Market was a sell-out. It attracted an audience of around 2,000 people, including some of the biggest names in Yorkshire business.

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The market, which was held at Pavilions of Harrogate on the Great Yorkshire Showground, is Yorkshire’s largest business-to-business exhibition and networking event.

It was organised by Harrogate Chamber to help create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Now in its eighth year, yesterday’s event attracted businesses ranging from architects to digital agencies.

In the past, around 80 per cent of exhibitors have picked up business opportunities during the course of the business market.

At the official opening, Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, praised the resilience of the county’s business community.

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He said during his speech: “There are far too many negative voices, and I don’t agree with that negativity.

“The key message from this event is that Yorkshire is open for business.”

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post after delivering his speech, Mr Jones said: “We have great products and great services from across Yorkshire, and we can take them out to all parts of the world.

“Sometimes we have put self-imposed barriers in place. We can’t just assume that people will find us. We need to go and find them.

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“Being back in recession is, of-course, extremely disappointing. But, at the same time, I have met lots of businesses who are confident about their future. There are people starting businesses. I was at a jobs fair here 15 days ago. There were more than 35 companies, and they were recruiting for up to 100 vacancies. While we are certainly facing some difficult times, we must also recognise that there are still opportunities and we still have to go out there and do business.”

Mr Jones rejected claims that the coalition Government had harmed the economy by cutting public spending too quickly.

He added: “We’re in a crisis because a large amount of western countries have been spending far too much money. The principles of good finance are absolutely fundamental whether they apply to your household, my household, a company, a charity or a council.

“Sound finances are at the heart of economic success.”

Many of the exhibitors were bullish about the prospects for the rest of this year, despite the gloomy economic data.

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Samantha Hayes, an account manager at Leeds-based Diva Telecom, said: “We’re increasing in size year on year, so the recession hasn’t really affected us. People need to look at operating efficiently, and we will go in and help them to do that. We’ve got different technologies and platforms that can help save them money.”

Henry Barker, the senior business manager at Leeds-based IT services firm SICL Cloud, said: “There’s a great business community here in Yorkshire and we really want to support that. We have continued to grow right the way through the recession, and a number of our clients have. Of course, you get casualties along the way, but we see a lot of positive moves, with people investing and still spending money.”

Chris Norton, the managing director of Dinosaur PR, said: “When times are difficult you still need to be putting your business message out there, whether it’s in the traditional media or through face to face contact. Bill Gates’ famous quote was, ‘If I had one dollar left, I would spend it on public relations.’

“It’s still critical to do it, but you can trim your budgets and spend them a bit more wisely. Marketing has got to be a lot more targeted in times like this.”

The Yorkshire Post was the event’s media partner.