'Business champions' could boost Yorkshire economy

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Image caption The Experian report says Yorkshire and Humber firms have potential to grow

The Yorkshire and Humber region is a hotspot for companies which have the potential to grow as the economy recovers, research suggests.

It has the second highest proportion of "business champions" - small firms with rapid growth potential - of any region in England, according to a report by information analysts Experian.

"Creating the right condition for these ambitious [firms] to flourish, with the right support and investment, could prove key to rebalancing the economy," the report says.

"These firms have been identified across England but relatively higher proportions are located in some of the least resilient areas of the north of England, suggesting a serious mood for growth there."

A spokeswoman for the Institute of Directors said the research was encouraging, but a major union urged caution on the report.

The Institute of Directors' spokeswoman said: "The data in the report emphasises two key factors which are entrepreneurial flair and the 'can-do' mentality.

"This bodes well for the Yorkshire and Humber region going forward, as we start to move out of the recession but we can't get too giddy because recovery is fragile.

"The diverse make-up of the Yorkshire economy is one of our key strengths.

"What it clearly underlines that what business, whether established or new, needs the shackles of bureaucracy to be loosened and the availability of finance to be there in a guaranteed stream rather than "on-off" tap approach.

"These figures also owe much to sheer grit and determination to succeed against the odds because there has been little from central government despite its stated aim of decentralising and working to get rid of the north/south divide."

Chris Jenkinson, the regional manager of the union, Unison, urged caution on the report.

He said: "Anything that brings improvements to the local economy and new jobs is to be welcomed.

"However, the report deals with speculation but we have to deal with day-to-day and month-to-month realities and that is 64,000 jobs in public sector disappeared in Yorkshire and Humber since comprehensive spending reviewing in 2010; 17,000 of those jobs in local government.

"In same period only 8,200 private sector jobs have been created and according to the Office of Budget Responsibility they estimate we will see 172,000 public sector jobs disappearing by April 2017."

The report says Yorkshire and the Humber is ranked in second place behind the North East for the prevalence of "business champions".

High-growth businesses

All but two of Yorkshire and the Humber's local authorities are ranked within the top 50% of England's local authorities for their proportion of such businesses.

In Calderdale, West Yorkshire, 13.5% of businesses are classed as high-growth businesses, that is about 1,524 companies out of 11,294.

In Ryedale, in North Yorkshire, 12.5% of businesses - or 438 out of 3,507 companies - are classed as high-growth.

Hull in East Yorkshire also performs above the England average.

It saw an increase in the number of business champions last year from 11.2% to 13.1% - an increase of 190 companies to 10,032.

The report also highlights the Yorkshire and Humber region as the home to a significant number of companies with strong export potential, particularly manufacturers of plastics, metals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

On this measure Yorkshire and Humber ranks the highest in England alongside the North East and North West.

Calderdale and Hull were identified as areas which already have a relatively high proportion of exporting businesses.

Other areas that have the potential to do better include North East Lincolnshire and Bradford.

The report adds: "There... are relatively higher proportions of business champions in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber than in other regions."

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