A Publicly-funded investment organisation claims it has overdelivered on its job creation target in its second year of operation.
Leeds and Partners, a private company that receives funding from Leeds City Council and other local authorities in the region, said it has created more than 1,000 jobs through its inward investment activities.
The organisation had a three-year job creation target of 540 by 2016, set by Leeds City Council. Leeds and Partners said it had delivered 18 months ahead of target.
In its 2013/14 annual report, Leeds and Partners said it created 713 new positions to year end, which was boosted by subsequent job announcements.
The geographical scope of its operations was expanded in January 2014 to include Leeds City Region, meaning it will now work with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to promote inward investment in the wider region.
As part of this, it was handed a three-year target of 1,500 jobs across the Leeds City Region by 2017, to be delivered with local authority support.
Leeds and Partners chief executive Lurene Joseph told The Yorkshire Post the organisation had exceeded its targets by taking a firm investment proposition to business.
She said: “It’s not just about saying, ‘why don’t you come to Leeds?’
“It’s about saying, ‘I understand your development strategy, I understand your balance sheet, I understand where you’re taking your business, we think there’s a good fit in Leeds and the city region’.”
There is a pipeline of 100 projects covering retail, manufacturing, health and financial and professional services and “active enquiries” mean a potential 3,000 jobs could be created, Leeds and Partners said.
Ms Joseph said it was expected that 30 to 50 per cent of these could be created in the next year.
She said: “We’re not saying we’re going to convert them all, but we’d expect to convert a large proportion.”
Around 30 per cent of the pipeline projects have come from outside of the UK.
Attracting international investment is central to Leeds and Partners strategy, Ms Joseph said.
Earlier this year, a report from EY placed Yorkshire at the bottom of the UK’s league table for foreign investment.
At the Leeds and Partners Annual Stakeholder Meeting (ASM), Ms Joseph told attendees its international trips were part of due diligence.
She said: “People say to me, ‘why are you doing international business missions, surely it’s just a nice jolly?’
“For us, it’s about learning. Being able to go out there and test those propositions and to ensure those propositions are credible. Because we want to be able to open doors at the highest level.”
Last year, the organisation was criticised for its spending on international travel, which included £8,000 on a conference trip for Ms Joseph and another executive.
Leeds and Partners’ gross expenditure for the year to March 2014 was £2.3m. Of its £2.4m income, more than £1.93m came from Leeds City Council.
A further £366,000 was received in contributions from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
In excess of £1m in private-sector partnerships and “in-kind support” was secured through the financial year, as part of the strategy to “reduce the organisation’s reliance on any one funding source”.
Internal resourcing is a future challenge for the organisation, Ms Joseph said, as the focus going forward is to “be out there selling the proposition”.
However, she said there was no risk of further strain through duplication of between the LEP and Leeds and Partners’ activities in promoting the city region.
She said: “We’ve got very separate agendas. What we hope to see is more movement in terms of the regional agenda.”
Leeds and Partners chairman and Asda president and chief executive officer Andy Clarke said the organisation has “a clear strategy” both for its own future and working with the LEP.
He said: “As a region and as a city, we’ll continue to develop strong relationships that will give us greater investment and of course growth.”