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Harrogate is a place of many attractions, both to those who live here and those that come to visit. It is also a highly desirable location to start or base a business venture, as many entrepreneurs and companies have discovered.
Harrogate is home to some of the most successful and well-known business ventures in the north of England. Many of them are closely identified with the town, such as Harrogate Spring Water and Yorkshire Tea. Others have a national or international profile but choose to be based in Harrogate for reasons of convenience and cost-effectiveness, not to mention an excellent work-life balance.
A vibrant economy
According to the borough council website, the Harrogate district has an economy worth £3.85bn and is home to over 13,000 businesses. As part of the wider city region of Leeds, employers can draw on a workforce of approximately 1.9m people, 46% of whom are qualified to degree level. With such a highly-skilled talent pool and its proximity to nine universities, Harrogate is a vibrant, geographical economy at the centre of the UK.
Excellent transport links
Just two hours from London, Harrogate is served by excellent road, rail and air transport links. With four railway stations of its own, the town is just a short distance from Yorkshire’s major rail hubs of Leeds and York, and there is easy access to the M1 and M62. Leeds/Bradford Airport, just ten miles away, is on our doorstep, and Manchester airport is also easily reached by road or by rail via Leeds. Weekday rail services go directly to the capital.
Getting started in Harrogate
Anyone thinking of relocating from the UK’s major cities to Harrogate for business purposes will be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities available. While commercial and residential properties in the town and surrounding district are often highly sought-after and priced accordingly, they are certainly much more affordable than in London or many parts of the south-east.
By making use of affordable self-storage nearby you can take your time finding a home or office space in the most appropriate part of town for your needs. Many people prefer to live in one of the outlying villages, providing a gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, while enjoying an easy and scenic commute into town for the working day.
Harrogate has an unsurpassed support network for new businesses, with advice, funding and specialist services available from a variety of sources. These include AD:VENTURE, offering expert help and advice to businesses in the area that have been in existence for three years or less, or for those planning to start a new business locally.
There is also the Business Enterprise Fund, set up to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the north, and the Digital Advantage Project for North Yorkshire, which offers workshops, advice and business grants of up to £5000 to help with needs such as website design, digital marketing and analytics.
Harrogate is also part of the area covered by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP) and Grow Yorkshire, which aims to support the region’s farmers. Finally, the Business And Intellectual Property Centre in Leeds is an invaluable resource for business research of all kinds.
A diverse community
The Harrogate business community includes a wide range of different sectors. Financial and professional services dominate, including the conference and exhibition industry. As one of the UK’s leading destinations for business conferences, Harrogate is an ideal base for networking in all sectors. The International Centre alone benefits the local economy by £150m every year, attracting over 350,000 business visitors annually. The promised arrival of high-speed broadband to the public sector should further enhance Harrogate’s business hotspot credentials
At the same time, Harrogate is also home to world-class manufacturing firms and has a strong life sciences sector. Retail ventures are thriving, whether at the Victoria Shopping Centre and along Cambridge and Oxford Street or among the quirky, independent shops along Commercial Street or in the Montpelier Quarter. The town has a history of supporting those with an entrepreneurial vision who are prepared to work hard to realise it.
As more businesses are leaving London with its sky-rocketing property prices behind, and are looking to relocate to the north, Harrogate is not always the most obvious choice. Yet it has many advantages over the likes of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield in terms of affordability and location. For anyone wishing to find a new base of operations or to begin a new company in any field, choosing Harrogate may be the best business decision they have ever made.