Wakefield is proving itself as one of the best places to do business. Our city has been ranked as having the tenth-fasting growing city economy in the United Kingdom, according to a new report.
And figures for the third quarter of 2017 indicate it is worth a total of £6.5bn.
Reasons given for economic success include the city’s location at the heart of the country’s motorway and railway network, its diverse business offering and ongoing regeneration, as well as tourist attractions including Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Coal Mining Museum and The Hepworth.
And the continuing development of the district’s education sector is expected to bring about a further boost.
Wakefield businessman Andy Turner, a managing partner at First Choice Recruitment, said: “We’ve over 8,000 small to medium enterprises driving the district forward as well as over 70 larger companies employing over 250 people and our workforce matches these demands.
“Connectivity has always been good and if anything, has improved.
“We’re under two hours from London by train, can be at several airports in a hour from the district and our motorway network is the envy of Europe.
“We’re slap bang in the middle of the UK, perfect for getting anywhere, perfect for business.
“As a parent I’m impressed with our local school offering but inevitably we all would benefit if Wakefield became a university city in its own right.
“We would retain skills in the district easier, attract even more great companies to the area as well as the added benefit of having the student economy back in town.
“I know people are working towards this but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.”
Year on year growth of the city’s economy was estimated at 1.7 per cent in the report, produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research,
The ‘powerhouse’ study looked at economic and employment growth in 45 of the UK’s largest cities, 12 months ahead of the government’s official figures being released.
It gave the city’s Gross Value Added (GVA), a measure of the value of goods and services produced in the area, as £6,503,000,000 for the third quarter of last year, making Wakefield the tenth-fasting growing city economy in the UK.
And Wakefield ranked even higher - in fifth place - in terms of jobs, with the employment level in that same quarter up by 0.9 per cent on the previous year.
Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “Wakefield is a great place to do business and we have the confidence of investors who recognise we have a lot to offer, such as excellent transport links, a strong logistics sector and a commitment to support business growth.
“This report is very positive and shows that we remain focused in supporting economic growth, to secure the future viability of the district.
“Developments such as Trinity Walk and the Hepworth Wakefield are also continuing to make a positive impact in bringing people to our district, as is our work with Leeds City Region to encourage additional investment.”
The study also examined the impact that education has on city economies.
Wakefield didn’t do as well in this area, with its education sector being ranked as the 26th largest in the country.
However it still fared better than some university cities including York, Derby and Hull.
The city’s education sector was valued at £127m in the fourth quarter of 2015, making up about eight per cent of the economy.
It grew by two per cent between 2012 and 2015.
Since then, Wakefield College has officially opened its new university centre, offering a wider range of degree-level courses.
And Backstage Academy has also revealed plans for the district’s first ever independent university, focusing on the live events industry.
Glen Rowe, managing director of Backstage Academy, said: “The UK creative industries are currently booming, bringing in £91.8bn in 2016, and we are excited about the impact that this could have on Wakefield’s educational sector.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of the local economy and boost employment rates in the live events and educational sectors.”
The report ranked Wakefield in 27th place in terms of education employment.
A total of 14,550 people were employed in education in 2016, but this was down 644 from 2013.
The sector made up around five per cent of the city’s total employment.
Wakefield College principal Sam Wright said: “That Wakefield, without having a university, has a similar level of education employment to a number of cites that do, is a positive for Wakefield.
She added: “It shows the strength of the school and college sector.”