At a meeting of Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet (26 July 2017) , Councillors recommended that council approve a strategy setting out their aims for the district’s economic growth for the next two decades.
Following engagement and consultation with businesses in the district, the Economic Growth Strategy for the Harrogate District (2017-2035) and the associated Economic Growth Action Plan (2017-2022) were developed.
The strategy and plan set out the council’s approach to growing and attracting businesses in key sectors.
The objective of the strategy:
- Create higher-value jobs
- Boost average pay
- Increase the district GVA (the increase in the value of the economy due to the production of goods and services
- Help achieve the council’s vision for a sustainable and resilient economy by 2035.
The development and adoption of the Economic Growth Strategy for the Harrogate District (2017-35) marks a significant shift in the council’s economic policy, providing a more targeted, resourced and proactive approach, so that more better paid jobs can be created for the benefit of Harrogate residents and businesses.
The strategy seeks to build on the district’s existing strengths, address the economic challenges it will face, and create effective partnerships – particularly within the private sector. It will also review the way council assets are utilised and the powers which can be used to secure a sustainable and resilient economy.
The strategy addresses a number of current issues facing the district including below average pay when compared to the wider region, a lack of good quality office space, well qualified residents leaving the district to work elsewhere, a faster than average ageing population, and a gap in the skills required by local businesses.
This will be achieved by focusing on six key themes:
- Land and Buildings
- Targeted Business Support
- Digital and Telecoms
- Branding and Promotion
The council will work with partner organisations to achieve its goals and will concentrate on four key employment sectors where it feels the district has an advantage:
- Creative and digital
- Financial and professional services
- Scientific research and development
Councillor Graham Swift, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, Economic Development and Enterprise said:
Whilst the Harrogate district has a strong local economy it is important that we do all we can to ensure its continued success and growth in the future.
We have a lot to be proud of – we have a vibrant visitor economy, we are one of the country’s leading conference locations, and have a strong, growing rural economy which supports over 2,500 jobs.
There are a wide range of successful and growing businesses operating in the district. We have an established financial technology cluster, and are home to a number of industry leading businesses including Covance, one of the largest Contract Research Operations in the UK, and Reed Boardal, Europe’s largest cold storage distribution centre.
However, there are significant challenges to address before we can build a truly sustainable economy that works for everyone.
There are currently barriers in place preventing the growth of higher paid jobs either due to specific skills gaps or where transport, office accommodation and digital infrastructure is preventing business growth.
This new economic growth strategy looks to address these issues by providing a long term framework to build on our strengths, address the challenges we face and deliver positive, focused activity to create a more sustainable local economy for the future.
I believe that by focusing on the six key themes and four key sectors we can support the private sector to create a sustainable and resilient economy that ensures that the Harrogate district continues to be a great place to live, work, visit and do business.