LEADER of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, says there are exciting times ahead for businesses in the district as growth continues to strengthen.

She reflects on the progress made as companies, both new and established, make the city their home and is confident the future will see more investment and expansion to continue the trend and capitalise on the changing face of the city centre, while plans continue to grow the district as a whole.

She said: “Bradford’s reputation as a place to do business is growing stronger by the day. Together we are making real progress in our ambitions to build a more vibrant economy with opportunities for all.

“Of course like any big city we have challenges and a backdrop of national economic uncertainty – but the evidence shows that our district is heading in the right direction.

“As part of the Bradford Economic Partnership we launched our district’s economic strategy this time last year with ambitious plans to add £4bn to the district economy, create 20,000 new jobs and improve the skills of nearly 50,000 residents by 2030.

“It’s early days for the plan but we are making encouraging progress.

“Last year we saw the birth of 4,127 businesses – equivalent to 15 new start-ups every working day – and approximately 6,500 new jobs created by our enterprising private sector.

“In doing so, our district has broken the 20,000 barrier in the number of BME women in employment, almost double the amount since 2010.

“And there was an inflation-beating seven per cent rise in average weekly workplace earnings.

“Alongside a healthy growth in start-ups, Bradford is also attracting big players. PwC made a major statement of intent by opening its first Bradford office which could create more than 200 high-quality city centre jobs in the next few years.

“Channel 4’s relocation to our city region is more good news and they made clear that Bradford was an important factor in their move.

“Arts and culture is a key plank of our strategy for growth and Channel 4 can bring lots of new opportunities for local people and businesses. “Another significant boost is NEC’s investment in the city as part of Bradford Live’s transformation of the former Odeon.

“Individually each of these global players are very welcome in our district. “Collectively they represent a major shift in an exciting direction.

As a council we are clear that it’s our entrepreneurs who are creating the jobs and opportunities; we are laying the fertile ground to support that good growth.

“This is shown in our strong support for Bradford Live; our transformational plan for the new city centre markets; getting Bradford on the map for Northern Powerhouse Rail; our support for Keighley, Bradford and Ilkley BIDs; our plans for business development zones in Keighley, Shipley and Bradford; our national-beating jobs and skills programmes; our culture and tourism events attracting record visitor numbers; a successful Manufacturing Week; the renewal of our heritage such as Keighley’s Cliffe Castle and Bradford’s St George’s Hall; our road improvements and investment in green infrastructure; and our District Growth Scheme.

“All of these things are designed to get the economy moving. We are working in partnership with business to support people to live happy, connected and fulfilling lives in our district.

“As Leader of the Council I’ve always been clear that good employers recognise they have a stake in their communities.

“I want to thank our best businesses who are investing in their local areas in all kinds of ways, which benefits all of us, and I urge as many organisations as possible to join them. Let’s build on our progress. Together we will create a better and fairer Bradford District.