How can Leeds be the best city for business?
By Tom Riordan, chief executive, Leeds City Council
As part of our ambition for Leeds to be the best city in the UK, the city has agreed that it wants to be the best city for business. Easier said than done! Over the last year we've made a start, working with the Chamber to improve our approach to economic growth through:
Attracting and investing in growth
- directly funding the Arena, and the Little London and Holt Park Private Finance Initiative projects
- developing ambitious plans with the Leeds City Region Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership to invest in transport and jobs and launching the Aire Valley Enterprise Zone, which will open for business in April
- attracting 1,000 NHS Commissioning Board jobs and proposing a health-focussed Science Park, as well as the bid for the Green Investment Bank
Working with business and responding to your concerns
- enabling private sector investment in the Trinity, Eastgate and Merrion retail schemes, and bringing the city centre up to higher cleanliness standards
- accepting, through our new draft Core Strategy out to consultation, that higher rates of housing development should be enabled, but importantly not at any cost, with the vast majority of the green belt and distinctive towns and villages continuing to be protected
- delivering free broadband wifi access in the city centre by the end of 2012
Looking to the future
- doubling the number of apprenticeships and revamping our approach to educational improvement - ensuring that young people in the city are valued, supported, and job ready
We're also refocusing Marketing Leeds to become a business-led investment arm of the city, with Andy Clarke of Asda the new Chair, and Lurene Joseph moving from the London Development Agency in April to be CEO, injecting new resources and opening access to a new £5m a year capital growth fund.
I realise of course there is a lot more to do and this can only be the start if we're to achieve our ambitions. We want to work more effectively with business - and you can help by giving us your views on what we need to do to improve:
- How does Leeds City Council support business in Leeds?
- How well does the Council communicate what it is doing for businesses in the city?
- Where do you get most of your messages about what we are doing?
- How can the Council can develop better relationships and communications with business?
If you have any other comments or concerns about the way we work with you, please let me know.
Leeds City Council