Annual Conference 2019: Championing Good Growth in Distinctive Places

03 July 2019


The York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership Annual Conference, 2019, sees a call to action for devolution and strong leadership for long term, localised planning for growth.



This year the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER) Annual Conference was held in York on the 26th June 2019 at the National Agri-Food and Innovation Centre, York (NAFIC).  Opening the event, David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chairman of YNYER, delivered a call to action for the region to embrace change. He asserted, to an audience of local authority representatives, partners, business leaders and regional influencers,

“Now is the time for a change in government thinking and policy.  Rural always comes second.  To drive growth, devolution is paramount.

“Local leadership is what we need to meet the inevitable challenges we face, be Brexit, digital revolution, climate change or our proposed merger with Leeds City Region.

With a theme of ‘Good Growth in Distinctive Places’, the conference showcased a diverse line up of speakers, sharing successes of the previous year and introducing principles and themes that are driving ambition for a Local Industrial Strategy. Together they engaged with a vision for good growth in the region, for people, places and the planet.

Identifying the city of York as a fulcrum for the region, David Kerfoot urged region wide collaboration, through meaningful engagement, to build an ambitious Local Industrial Strategy, re-affirming the need for investment based on local, long term planning.  Engagement was kick-started by a series of place-based workshops following the morning’s session, identifying future trends, impacts and opportunities faced by city of York, the North Yorkshire coast, the vast rural Local Enterprise Partnership geography and market towns spread throughout.

Keynote speaker, Bill Grimsey, a thought leader in place-based regeneration, gave a passionate presentation, advocating for local leadership that takes control of town centres, keeps pace with change and embraces technological revolution in all that they do. Mr Grimsey challenged local authorities to get ahead of the inevitable changes coming to retail, changes that could see huge rises in unemployment and demand a complete transformation of town centres.  He closed with a motivating call to action, for the region to, “get together, get local and create successful, social and culturally led propositions for your towns.”

Other speakers included, Sam Alexander from Your Consortium, who gave an insight into inequality, its impact on growth and solutions to create inclusion.  Phill White, a Yorkshire born ‘Circular Entrepreneur’, gave an inspiring and educational introduction to the circular economy, suggesting that SMEs can play a pivotal and profitable role in addressing a climate emergency, by finding value in waste products and re-designing systems in their businesses. Ruth Smith and Anj Handa, two successful business owners, shared personal experiences and explored the positive impact that diversity can have in business. Sharing details of the ‘Step Up to Leadership’ programme, delivered through Skills Support for the Workforce, the women also called for businesses to create working environments where all leaders can be authentic and fulfil their potential as individuals.

Students, from Millthorpe School in York, took to the stage to represent the York and North Yorkshire Careers Hub, one of only 20 career hubs nationally, that YNYER successfully brought to the patch last year. The children quizzed a panel of SMEs about future career opportunities.  Students also challenged the panel to think about how employers can prove that they are supporting sustainable and clean growth, something the children said was, “very important to all of us at Millthorpe”.  The businesses advised the youngsters to be adaptable and build their transferable skills, as well as noting the challenge and imperative set by the young people.

Following the conference, delegates were invited to network and shop in a market place of local, Yorkshire food and drink producers.

The 2019 Annual Conference has set the tone for a collaborative approach to good growth in distinctive places, paving the way for the generation of a robust, inclusive and visionary Local Industrial Strategy to project the region into the next decade.

Interested in more? Read more in our Annual Report 2019: Good Growth in Distinctive Places.

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