Welcome to the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 for 2017. This is the seventh year in which we have held these awards, supported by The Yorkshire Post, and they never fail to deliver inspiring stories of business achievement and endeavour.
Speed is of the essence in these awards with those who have grown their businesses the fastest, whilst maintaining profitability, coming out on top.
It is a challenge managing expansion at pace, which is why the winners and indeed every company in this year’s list deserve the recognition afforded to them at the awards on Friday and within these pages.
Coping with rapid change is something which everyone in the business world is used to, even when the alteration is as fundamental as Brexit.
True to form, despite the initial shock at the result of the referendum last June, companies in Yorkshire and across the UK knuckled down and got on with business with the result that GDP grew above initial expectations in 2016 and growth forecasts for this year are now being upgraded.
Whilst the situation remains uncertain, the approach companies have taken so far seems exactly right – there is an awful lot to be said for just getting on with it.
If businesses are adept at dealing with rapid change, they also have to cope with the opposite problem.
A year on from when I mentioned this in last year’s supplement, the situation surrounding devolution in Yorkshire remains much the same, with no agreement in place for the majority of the region and the Sheffield City Region devolution deal now on hold until next year.
This seems a real shame when there is significant agreement about the beneficial impact which having greater control over the decisions which affect things like investment, transport, infrastructure and skills could have on a region which is already making terrific progress.
Yorkshire deserves to have a greater say in how Yorkshire is run and I would hope there is enough goodwill, determination and belief in devolution to find a way for it to be successfully delivered.
Whilst it is not going to solve everything at once, devolution does have the potential to shape all our futures for the better, regardless of the final form it eventually takes and when it comes about.
Nevertheless, with nearby regions like Greater Manchester and the Tees Valley already forging ahead with devolution, the clock is most definitely ticking for Yorkshire. Another year of standing still is not what we need.
Transport is another area where noticeable progress would appear to be difficult to achieve.
Transport for the North, whose chair John Cridland gave an excellent speech at last year’s awards, has done superb work in articulating the benefits of improved transport across the North and outlining a comprehensive blueprint to achieve this.
However, the response from Whitehall has thus far been muted. The Budget earlier this month was noticeably free of major spending commitments bar a £90m fund to deal with “pinch points” in the North’s road network.
Whilst major infrastructure projects of the type outlined by Transport for the North, such as a high-speed rail network to link up the North’s major cities, always take time and money, there seems to be too much of the former and not enough of the latter at the moment.
The potential for further growth – for even more companies to follow in the footsteps of this year’s Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 – is there for all to see. In the wake of Brexit, it is more important than ever for that potential to be realised and greater investment in the future of the North would pay huge dividends for the country.
Perhaps Whitehall can take a leaf out of the Fastest 50’s book – and get on with it.