As York and its business community look ahead to recovery post Covid-19, York Business Week will be making a virtual return for 2021, for its 11th year. With an overarching theme of ‘Rebuilding for Growth’, the week-long programme will focus on economic recovery across York’s key sectors, inspiring growth and offering opportunities to spark creativity and innovation.
The week-long event is organised by the Economic Growth Team at the City of York Council and hosted in conjunction with York & North Yorkshire LEP, Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, York BID, the University of York, York St John University, and the AD:venture Programme.
To make the week as accessible as possible to all businesses, all events within York Business Week this year will be free of charge. Topical seminars, thought-provoking workshop sessions, online networking opportunities and the city’s second virtual York Business Conference will offer something for all York businesses from sole traders to global businesses, opening up access to industry-leading insights from the comfort of their own offices or remote working spaces.
Keith Aspden, Council leader said “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked to establish valuable city partnerships that have proved to be crucial in the Council’s response to the challenges of the last 19 months. This year’s Business Week will see this partnership continue, as local, regional, national and international speakers and businesses will come together to discuss the current challenges and opportunities facing the city. I would encourage local businesses to take this opportunity to share their experiences and join York’s collaborative and innovative business community. I know that this will help us to continue to drive progress and support our local economy”.
In keeping with the tradition of the week, the programme kicks off with the York Business Conference on the morning of Monday 8th November, welcoming a series of expert speakers sharing their timely insights and discussing how we can maximise York’s strengths in this period of revival and renewed focus.
The speaker line-up for the day includes Julian Richer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and the force behind the Good Business Charter, Jon Geldart, Institute of Directors, Director General and Helen Simpson OBE, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Mark Essex, Director of Skills, KPMG in the UK will discuss the new labour market and former investment banker, Dr. Roger Barker, Director of Policy and Corporate Governance at the Institute of Directors will share his thoughts on business recovery from the pandemic.
The focus for this year’s York Business Conference will be rebuilding for growth, exploring the Good Business Charter, The new labour market, what businesses can do to accelerate growth alongside economic insights from leading experts. There will also be the launch of the week-long SME business challenge where businesses will get an opportunity to work with peers throughout the week. We round off the afternoon with an opportunity for virtual networking, giving businesses the opportunity to connect with new and existing contacts across the city.
Carolyn Frank, Federation of Small Business Development Manager North Yorkshire, said “York Business week is an exciting programme of activity which brings together businesses of all sizes across the City. At the FSB we encourage our members to engage in the events, which can provide inspiration and new thinking, which is particularly important as we all recover from the pandemic. A wonderful opportunity, not only to network, but to learn and grow as a business owner or company”.
Tuesday will see the York skills and education partnership host various sessions including modelling a thriving business and a session on high performing workplaces. AD:venture returns for another year with a range of interactive seminars and workshops focused on start-ups (including funding) and sales. Creative trends for visual marketing will also feature on the day as well as a webinar on mental health and wellbeing. An added feature this year is the Hospitality Aspiration Fayre, an in person event, focussing on the managerial and office based roles in hospitality and the leisure sector.
Wednesday’s seminars will address a host of issues facing businesses of all sizes, in all sectors with topics focused on wellbeing and mental health in the workplace including sessions focusing on personal careers as well as the menopause and andropause. Delegates will get the opportunity for peer to peer discussions through the successful ‘Connect Over Coffee initiative. There is also a focus on the environment through the Net Zero Building Solutions seminar/exhibition, an in person event, that will run throughout the day. The event will host a variety of local businesses, services, and professionals who specialise in Net Zero Building Solutions and will outline the broad strokes of retrofitting and discuss net zero building solution possibilities, whilst also drawing on a variety of case studies. Professor Kiran Trehan, PVC for Partnerships and Engagement, University of York will also lead a panel of business leaders to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of a diverse range of entrepreneurs and explore how productivity, place and collaboration foster a culture which inspires entrepreneurial ambition, delivers economic and social prosperity, and in doing so helps to create entrepreneurial ambitions. The Guildhall is one of York’s most prestigious and historically significant buildings and the redeveloped building has been transformed into an area for enterprise development, knowledge exchange, individual and collective transformation, whilst honouring the aesthetic of this unique building. Delegates will be able to book a tour of the building on Wednesday and Friday of the week.
Thursday will feature seminars and workshops on energising your teams as well as a Marketing Masterclass delivered by the team at Intandem Communications. The session on Doing Business Sustainably will bring together several York businesses who have implemented sustainability measures within their business and/or have developed products and services aimed at improving businesses’ resource efficiency to share their learning. Representatives from both Local Enterprise Partnerships will also be hand to share what support is available to help businesses to decarbonise. Fiona Smith, Geoff Ashton, Joanne Rule from Coaching York will deliver a workshop to explore the power of group coaching to developing management and leadership skills. The current skills shortage has been well documented so the Armed Forces Covenant event will explore and discuss how this can be a great opportunity for businesses to engage with ex-armed forces personnel and the potential benefits. The Institute of Directors’ Young Director Forum will also feature on the day and discuss experiences and best practice approaches for the critical business issues that impact us as individuals. The York BID will host an in-person event with a focus on retail performance and the future of the high street.
The week will conclude on Friday with City of York Council’s Growth Managers delivering a session around business support and the funding opportunities currently available for York businesses. The Council’s Economic Growth team will also host a session around reconfiguring workspace post-Covid. Attendees will hear from Nestle’s Head of Workplace and Wellbeing on how they’re investing in their Haxby Road site to encourage collaboration, increase employee wellbeing and improve energy efficiency. Local providers of serviced office space will explore how serviced office space and how occupier requirements have changed following the pandemic and showcase their latest spaces. Finally, the Council’s Head of Carbon Reduction, Shaun Gibbons, will share details of the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, what businesses can do to reduce their building emissions, and why that is important in supporting York’s net-zero ambitions with a Q&A session to follow. The CYC Smart Transport team will also host an event and discussion with local businesses on York’s Smart Transport Evolution – the past, present and future of transport in York.
Drawing the week to a close will be the in-person networking event, a collaboration with the Institute of Directors, Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business which will showcase the results of the SME Leadership challenge and provide an opportunity for delegates to make new business contacts and round off a week of activities.
Executive member for Economy and Strategic planning, Cllr Andrew Waller, said “Supporting York’s businesses and retaining employment in the city continue to be our focus, particularly as we work to facilitate a strong and sustainable local economic recovery. The feedback from last year’s Business Week played a big role in shaping our local response to the challenges facing businesses across the city. Whilst there is very promising progress being made in our local economic recovery, with footfall and spend returning to high levels, there are many businesses who are still facing major challenges and are in need of support. I hope that the wealth of events provided during the York Business Week programme this year will offer practical support, inspiration as well as new business opportunities to local businesses of all sizes”.