New West Yorkshire Mayor business advisor hopes to make region top choice for firms ready to launch

The new business adviser to the Mayor of West Yorkshire has expressed her desire to make the region a top choice for businesses which are ready to launch or looking to move.

Mandy Ridyard has been taken on as business adviser to Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, a role in which she will aim to support the growth of a “strong, inclusive, sustainable economy” in West Yorkshire.

Ms Ridyard is financial director at specialist manufacturing firm Produmax Limited, as well as chair of Space Hub Yorkshire.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post about her new role, Mrs Ridyard said: “The role I have is to support the Mayor, and to do that by championing businesses.

Mandy Ridyard (left) with West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.Mandy Ridyard (left) with West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.
Mandy Ridyard (left) with West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.

“Everything I’m about is growth, and about making West Yorkshire the place for businesses, the place to start a business, grow a business or move a business. That’s really important to me.

“We need to understand what makes that happen, what attracts businesses here and what the barriers for businesses are which are already here. We’re doing a good job of finding that out, but I think we can do more of it, and to do that we need to engage more with the businesses.”

Originally from Wales, Mrs Ridyard moved to West Yorkshire in the 1990s with confectionary and pet food manufacturer Mars. At the age 26, she set up Shipley-based Produmax Limited with her husband.

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As well as being a board member with Leeds City Regional Enterprise Partnership, she is chair of Space Hub Yorkshire, a programme funded by the Government and backed by the UK Space Agency which aims to create a hub for the space industry in Yorkshire.

Mrs Ridyard will now be the first to take on the newly-formed role of business advisor to Tracy Brabin.

She hopes to use her experience in to help businesses which are currently struggling due to economic headwinds.

“An action plan is probably the first thing we will be working on, but if we want an action plan, first we have to listen, so it's really important that we do that,” she said.

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“My own business is in aerospace, and while the pandemic probably lasted a year and half in most sectors, for aerospace, we’ve only just come out of it, so I understand the struggles that has created, because they put my own businesses under pressure.

“But rather than looking at the negatives, I think it's about turning the negatives into positives, and looking at what we can do to help businesses. There is no silver bullet to this, but its about working with the busineses that we have and actively listening to what it is that they need.”

Mrs Ridyard also noted her excitement about the opportunity to work with a female dominated team at West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

She said: “What excites me about the job is the opportunity to make a difference, but what I find particularly exciting is that i'll be joining the deputy mayor for policing and crime, Alison Lowe, and Fatima Khan-Shah, West Yorkshire’s inclusivity champion, as well as the Mayor.

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“I've never been in a room that is so female dominant, so that's a huge opportunity, and I think that makes us really different from other regions in the country.

“I've had lots of men support me in my career, and love working with men, but it is different to be working in this ring, and it's an exciting opportunity.”