A London visit by business and civic leaders to promote Bradford as the place to invest has been declared a success, with as many as 100 companies hearing what the district can offer them.
Dalton Phillips, the chief executive of Morrisons, told the audience that Morrisons would be staying in Bradford because it has lots of young people, good university links, good skills and he likes the “no-nonsense, can-do attitude of Yorkshire people”.
The gathering included many national and international businesses, development companies, retailers and property agents, Bradford Council leader Dave Green and chief executive Tony Reeves joined Mr Phillips, and Peter Miller, Westfield’s chief operating officer, at the event where bosses of other national companies were told how they can benefit from Bradford’s City Centre Growth Zone which is planned to create 2,800 jobs within the next five years.
The zone is being funded through a combination of £17.6 million from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and £17.2m from Bradford Council. It will stimulate investment and private sector growth in the city centre through a range of incentives.
Coun Green said that the many leads they got would be followed up in the days ahead.
“We had a great presentation by Dalton and Peter outlining why they are in Bradford and we had some good positive feedback from the investors and developers and we are looking to move that forward from enthusiasm to delivery and results,” he said.
“We were not expecting anyone to sign on the dotted lane today but there is a possibility of us attracting new investments. I would expect and hope that we see something concrete and see progress in the months to come.
“Dalton said that he had lived all over the globe but recognised the strengths of Bradford and told the visitors that the Council is very keen and effective in partnership with the private sector and works closely with them.
“My pitch was more about what a great city Bradford is with its culture and heritage and creativity which has been recognised going back to Victorian times. We have got a Council that is committed to delivery in terms of jobs and business growth and our number one priority is to deliver.”
The Bradford team included David Ward MP (Lib Dem, Bradford East), Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Lab, Bradford South) and delegates from Westfield, Prudential and the Arcadia Group, among many others.
Mr Miller said that with the growing momentum behind his company’s Broadway development there had never been a better time for retailers to invest or open in Bradford. He said it was an untapped chance for retailers with the potential to attract up to £1 billion of spending once the Broadway shopping centre had been built.