16th June, 2017

From 13 - 16 June it has been Wakefield Business Week. Nova has attended several events throughout the week to network and lobby to raise awareness of our sector, and also promote the benefits for the district of working in partnership with our entrepreneurial members.

Launch of Wakefield Business Week

Mary Roche - Nova Adviser (Development)

I attended the launch on Tuesday at the amazing Production Park in South Kirkby. It was a breakfast session opened by Councillor Peter Box, Leader of  Wakefield Council and Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority who set the context of the Good Growth – Good Lives Agenda. The Leeds City Region is the fastest growing region outside of London – there are real opportunities and support for growth if we all work together. Two examples are Production Park and The Really Useful Products Company both hugely successful local businesses set up by local people. Keynote speaker Mike Pickles of The Really Useful Box Company in Glasshoughton was inspirational and practical – his story is better told through the Building the Butterfly website

I thought his Really Useful Tip for Business was something I could really relate to and wanted to share with Nova members. 

Mike’s fascinating presentation ended with his vision for a design and manufacturing visitors centre at Glasshoughton for Wakefield residents but also to attract even more visitors to the district.

And to follow that another world famous business on our doorstep – a well kept secret? The WBW17 launch host Adrian Brooks, Founder and Chairman of Production Park told us all about their business including Backstage Academy which offers university courses in Live Events Production, Stage Management, and Live Visual Design and Production. Backstage Academy is aspiring to become a university in their own right. Adrian also spoke about Litestructures which designs and manufactures creative structures across a wide spectrum of sectors.

Adrian summed it up with “Proud to create hope and opportunity through employment", which is a vision I think we would all be happy to share.

Wakefield Business Conference

Julie Baker - Nova Adviser (Development)

Mary and I attended the Wakefield Business Conference on Tuesday 13 June at Production Park, South Kirkby. We visited over 40 exhibition stands finding out more about the work of their business and to make links with them on behalf of Nova Members. We listened to the following speakers in the seminars:

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce from Westminster who provided national and regional updates covering topics including Brexit, The General Election, The Northern Powerhouse, Skills and Innovation. He talked about making places successful which results in economies being successful and that business is a force for good in communities.

Andrew Raby, Business Development Manager at Leeds Beckett University discussed the importance of Universities to support business and regional growth. 

He highlighted that Wakefield is the only City in the UK and possibly Europe without a University and how they work in “black spot” areas with no University presence. 

They engage with regional partnerships for skills development and are aligning apprenticeship opportunities with SMEs. They also provide incubation spaces for new businesses and virtual offices with business support.

Mark Prince is the author of the Amazon 5-Star reviewed business book LeadingThe Crusade. He showed new business models that young, motivated companies (from financial services through to manufacturing) are using to completely disrupt their marketplaces. He talked about creating a sense of belonging for customers, creating clubs and causes. Needing vitality and constant energy and that your point of difference makes you different from the crowd.

The final session was Financial Support for Business Growth. This informative seminar provided advice and guidance on the current business funding and grant streams available to businesses in the Leeds City Region. Speakers included:

Nova would like to facilitate a fringe event at Wakefield Business Week next year about Community Business and Social Enterprise and we will be starting to plan this over the summer.

Retail and Hospitality Revolution

Mary Roche - Nova Adviser (Development)

This event, which was held at Unity Works, talked about all the opportunities for leisure, health and wellbeing in the district, which have attracted 5.4 million visitors, whom of which spent £395m. There are amazing facilities and events in the area, but we are not good at shouting about it so that people who live, work and visit the district can benefit from them. 

Jenny Layfield, General Manager at Nostell Priory and member of Wakefield Cultural Consortium celebrated this in her presentation. Jenny also explained about the recent Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations award of £223,000, which will support the embedding of culture in the districts Good Growth Plan (pdf). 

Some Nova members are currently involved in the Culture Cures project run by Wakefield Council. This is a grant project and this year it is drawing on the recognised evidence that participating in cultural activities impacts on individuals and communities health and wellbeing. Therefore, a number of Community Anchor organisations are conducting focus groups and 1:1 interviews with a cross section of their communities to try and find out what the barriers to participation in these activities are. The whole project will be evaluated by a university – yet to be named. I have offered that Nova members will be pleased to be more involved in the Cultural Consortium so Jenny and I are going to meet and discuss possibilities, I will keep you informed. 

David Owen, of the Beer Exchange Wakefield gave 2 presentations. The first about the importance of the night time economy (NTE), his extensive experience and adventures in the industry after starting out as an Aerospace Engineer and how he has applied his love of science to brewing – a few plugs for St Abbs rum! 

Dave’s ambition for Wakefield is to be a City of Culture (why not?), think big - start small (this seems to be a theme of the WBW17 events I attended and replicated in our sector). The journey to the vision includes a local Charter of Standards owned by the industry supported by training and professional development for those who work in the industry and attracting local young people. 

Dave’s second presentation was as Wakefield BID chair. The Business Improvement District for Wakefield City Centre was successful earlier this year in its application to make the city a better place to visit, shop, relax, work and live. I am very interested in how Nova members can play a part in this and when I spoke to the BID Project Manager, they said they will be setting up project groups for each objective which members could contribute to and she would welcome that - keep an eye on the website.

I honestly think that with this teams enthusiasm and inspiration that City of Culture is not so far away and that would be great for everyone. 

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