How we can rise to the challenge and build a better Yorkshire - David Kerfoot

The North York Moors is home to a wide range of businesses Picture: James Hardisty
The North York Moors is home to a wide range of businesses Picture: James Hardisty
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It’s been a busy start to the year.

Leaving the EU is of historic importance to our country and the region.

We face new challenges but in a confident and organised manner I know we will continue to be a force for the good for our patch.

Having spent over a year working with our colleagues in Leeds City Region to ascertain the most impactful geographic footprint for investment in North and West Yorkshire, in January we decided to align our LEP boundaries with proposed devolution boundaries, removing any overlap we previously shared from April 2020.

We will continue to deliver together for the benefit of the whole geography, through strong and successful collaboration.

Also in January, our Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) has been out for consultation. Early analysis of the consultation delivers a key message to strike a greater level of ambition and deliver transformation.

The Prime Minister has made bold promises about levelling up the North-South divide, now is the time for local ambition to take advantage.

I truly believe in the people of our region. They are as much a part of our global identity as our beautifully distinctive places. We have a role to enable the people in our region to fulfil their true potential. We have too many people under-employed and it’s holding our economy back.

The challenge for SMEs is often that they don’t have the internal structures to make sweeping policy changes for a truly inclusive workforce.

However, we know that financially, diverse and inclusive workforces outperform those that aren’t. By breaking down barriers and empowering employers, every SME can develop high performing work cultures that transform productivity.

The reality is that such ambitions are hard to reach. There is significant risk attached to making bold changes and in truth, embedding those changes takes tenacious conviction. Confidence is a significant contributor to success.

A confident business will stick their head above the precipice and advocate wider change. We need to give voice to those businesses.

Maximising our place in the NP11 to be a voice for our region in the call for levelling up the North, will bring confidence to our businesses. Alongside the major urban powers of the North, it is our distinctiveness that gives us our strength.

York and North Yorkshire is well recognised for strengths in food and agri-tech, yet it’s clean and green technologies that are our global growth sectors. We’re world leaders in circular-bio-economy innovation, carbon capture potential and renewable energy technologies.

The same rolling green hills, North Yorkshire coast and abundance in culture capital that give our region its global brand, belie an economic powerhouse, with connectivity to national transport links and urban centres.

If urban economies are to meet UK targets for carbon neutrality, York and North Yorkshire must reach for a carbon negative economy. We have the capacity and the knowledge. To reach our full potential, significant investment in digital infrastructure is needed.

Whilst major transport investment is a core focus for NP11, it is crucial that this lobbying voice also call for investment in digital infrastructure. We want our businesses and the communities they thrive in, to be able to take full advantage of a digital revolution, driving up our national position and a cleaner, greener economy for all.

We’re seeking local business leaders to join our LEP board and our Skills board. Strong leadership is needed to motivate and enable change at scale. Good growth can only be delivered by good businesses.

We need to put our head above the precipice and as a LEP, challenge our own practices of inclusion and carbon reduction, sharing our experiences of the barriers faced and solutions we develop to overcome them.

We want your voice to lead our transformation. If you have a passion and pride for our region, value good growth and have experience in good business we want to hear from you. Do you believe in a better Yorkshire? Help build one.

David Kerfoot is the chairman of York and North Yorkshire LEP