Hundreds of visitors packed into a sold-out Yorkshire Business Market at Pavilions of Harrogate on Monday, as the event marked its 12th anniversary.
Designed to promote business and encourage the use of local and regional companies, it saw more than 100 exhibitors from across Yorkshire line the halls.
It was officially opened by Sir Gary Verity, who told the audience to make the most of the opportunity to meet hundreds of business people in one day.
“This is a really important event in the Harrogate business calendar and the business calendar for wider Yorkshire,” he said.
“There are some fantastic businesses in this part of the world – many of them you know already and many of them you will know by the end of today. As I look round, I see some of the top businesses that are here – not just regional, but top national and indeed international businesses.”
This year’s programme included seminars by Microsoft and Google, in a new digital theatre area with accompanying exhibitor space.
While the big names proved a draw to visitors, it was the local and regional speakers who proved a talking point on the day.
Ruth Whiteley – star of BBC1’s The Apprentice in 2015 – attracted a large crowd for her talk on sales techniques, and Jacqui Hall, managing director of CNG Ltd, proved inspirational to the audience at her Q&A session.
The organisers also focused on networking, with organised sessions at the beginning and end of the day and a lunchtime seminar advising visitors on how to improve their networking skills.
At a VIP reception for the dignitaries visiting the event, Peter McCormick of Harrogate-based law firm McCormicks praised the Yorkshire Business Market for the significant impact it has on the local and regional economy.
Organised with support from Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, its committee of volunteers is led by Brian Dunsby who will next month step down from his
role as chief executive of Harrogate Chamber.
Mr McCormick said: “The Yorkshire Business Market continues to be one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the Yorkshire corporate calendar.
“A huge thank you to the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and in particular the organising committee, who have put together a fantastic line-up of participants and speakers.
“The organisers deserve a real pat on the back for getting the participation of both Google and Microsoft – who says Harrogate is an old-fashioned place to do business?
“Networking continues to be the lifeblood of businesses and I for one am delighted to see the emphasis on networking in today’s agenda.
“This is a very exciting time to be in business in Harrogate.”
Monday’s Yorkshire Business Market was the last to be organised by Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce while Brian Dunsby is at its helm.
The organistion’s chief executive will step down next month, but will continue his leading role in organising both the Yorkshire Business Market and the Harrogate Christmas Market.
Speaking at a VIP reception for guests VIPs at the event, Peter McCormick said: “This is Brian’s last term as chief executive of Harrogate Chamber, but he will continue organising the Yorkshire Business Market and Harrogate Christmas Market, whilst also lobbying for improved traffic and transport services for Harrogate businesses and visitors.
“Brian has given terrific service to the Chamber and to this district. He has worked tirelessly and we thank him for all his hard work over the years.”
Mr Dunsby added: “Today has been a fantastic success for everyone involved and we are proud to say that numbers for both exhibitors and visitors are significantly up on last year.
“We’re very grateful to all our event partners, seminar leaders and networking organisers, and to Sir Gary Verity and Peter McCormick, for their support.
“It is wonderful to see Yorkshire businesses thriving and we know the Yorkshire Business Market will have helped to create even more valuable business connections to everyone who took part.”