New 2035 strategy to tackle 'economic challenges' in Harrogate District
Cabinet members of Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) have last night recommended a report defining its aims for economic growth across the district over the next two decades.
The Economic Growth Strategy (2017 - 2035) and the Economic Growth Action Plan (2017 - 2022) for the Harrogate District were developed following consultations with local businesses.
The strategy and plan set out the council’s approach to growing and attracting businesses in key sectors to create "a sustainable and resilient economy by 2035".
Councillor Graham Swift, HBC’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."
The focus of the strategy is based on six key themes - land and buildings; skills; targeted business support; digital and telecoms; transport; and branding and promotion.
It will target four key employment sectors - creative and digital; financial and professional services; scientific research and development; and logistics where the council feels the district has an advantage.
The aims are to 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); 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.
HBC claimed the report marks a significant shift in its economic policy, providing "a more targeted, resourced and proactive approach".
Coun Swift said: “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.”