Strength of manufacturing pulled YIBC to South Yorks

Mike FirthMike Firth
Mike Firth
THE Yorkshire International Business Convention is gearing up for its debut in Rotherham after South Yorkshire’s strength in manufacturing helped attract the event to the region.

The YIBC, now in its 18th year, will be staged at Magna in Rotherham in March next year after having in the past been held at Harewood House, near Leeds, the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, and, in 2012, at Wellington Place in Leeds.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Mike Firth, founder of the YIBC, said that the event is coming to South Yorkshire as it is a “fantastic” region for manufacturing and home to big names like Rolls-Royce and Tata Steel.

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On the decision to hold the event at Wellington Place in Leeds in 2012, he said: “I think with the recession the days of getting 1,200, 1,400 people there were gone so we looked at keeping it going and downscaling it in Leeds.”

But he said: “I think the challenge in Leeds as a city is when the economy is good it’s very buoyant because you’ve got a lot of professionals, a lot of bankers, a lot of corporate spend, when the recession is bad they just draw the horns in.

“And the other problem you’ve got is that a lot of them are just messenger boys for London now so you’re not talking to the decision makers,” said Mr Firth.

The Rotherham leg of the YIBC was launched officially last week at the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Rotherham.

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As well as the staging of YIBC at Magna in Rotherham on March 28 next year, Bridlington Spa will also host a convention on June 6.

The East Yorkshire leg was formerly a satellite event for the main YIBC in Harrogate, but it became so popular in East Yorkshire, that it is now run as a standalone event.

The convention has over the years attracted high profile names as diverse as Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

“We decided when we did our Leeds event, finish with the Dalai Lama, it was an absolutely fantastic day, but having done that we decided that was going to be the last in the Leeds/Harrogate area, we still run Bridlington, and then we were invited to come down to Rotherham”, said Mr Firth.

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Speaking about the attraction of the manufacturing sector in South Yorkshire, he said: “No disrespect to other people but it’s real business.

“It’s people who make things and it’s vital to our economy and it’s doing well, it’s got things to offer the world, you’ve got world class facilities here, we’re in the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, you’ve just got world class businesses.”

He added: “There are always challenges but I think there’s a really good confidence in this area (in manufacturing).”

Mr Firth said there exists “a real enthusiasm for business” in South Yorkshire, adding that the YIBC is looking to play its part to put South Yorkshire, Rotherham and the Sheffield City Region on the map.

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“This is the birthplace of the industrial revolution. We haven’t forgotten about those sort of skills.

“And we’ve got businesses now that are innovators and manufacturers at world class levels,” added Mr Firth.

Adventurer Rosie Swale Pope, who spoke at the YIBC at Bridlington Spa earlier this year, has been confirmed as a speaker at next year’s Rotherham event.

She is known for having completed a solo, 20,000-mile run around the world, as well as 27 marathons in 27 days.

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Her accomplishments also include twice completing a 150-mile race across the Sahara, and riding more than 3,000 miles on horseback across South America.

The full speaker line-up has yet to be announced.

Bridlington Spa’s event earlier this year attracted speakers including television personality and scientist Professor Brian Cox, Olympic and Paralympic heroes Luke Campbell and David Weir.

More than 700 business leaders attended the event.

Tickets are now on sale and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more details, see