Enterprising Bradford

Did you know that Bradford has a £9.2 billion economy, the eighth largest in England?

As the district’s top business leaders and companies were recognised at the Bradford Means Business awards in June, and in July Bradford was named one of the top 10 places to work in the UK, we thought we’d seize the moment and share some evidence to show that Bradford really is on the up. But how has this come about and what do the key statistics tell us?

Bradford plays a key role in the regional economy, with 46,000 people commuting between Leeds and Bradford each day. This is the largest flow between any two cities in the UK. Over 40 large companies are headquartered in the Bradford district, employing 370,000 people across the UK with a combined turnover of £30 billion – impressive numbers for sure.

Economic growth since 2008 has outstripped regional and national averages and we have seen a 70% increase in foreign investment in Bradford in the last year. The district’s Job Seekers claimant rate has reduced by a significant 22% in the last 12 months, which compares very favourably to the UK average drop of 7.1%.

What has driven this growth?

The £35 million City Centre Growth Zone has played a key role, offering unique financial incentives and benefits to businesses. The result has seen a real expansion in business activity and an increase in footfall rates across the city centre with 250 businesses creating over 465 new jobs in the city centre.  Coupled with the opening of the Broadway shopping centre which is projected to attract an additional 9 million shoppers a year, this positive outlook and growth has made the city centre a very attractive proposition to both businesses and visitors. Plans are underway for further large-scale mixed use schemes and Grade A office developments with negotiations taking place with private sector partners.

Forks Cafe, Bradford
Happy staff at the successful Forks Cafe!

We went to the heart of Bradford’s independent quarter to see the positive impact of Growth Zone funding on thriving business and social enterprise Forks Café. We spoke to Jon Royle, Chief Executive of the Bridge Project which owns Forks Café who explained, “Since we opened Forks Café we’ve had a fantastic reception from the public and local business community. We usually appear in the top 10 Bradford restaurants on Trip Advisor and we’ve provided dozens of our beneficiaries with structured work experience, many of whom have gone on to find full time jobs. Without the support of the Growth Zone none of this would have been possible. Thanks to the investment from Bradford Council we’ve opened a popular business that achieves important social outcomes.”

A city on the move – other exciting developments

The ripple effect of this confidence can be seen as the Independent Quarter continues to go from strength to strength, along with the regeneration of the West End area around the Alhambra. More recently the move of businesses into Ivegate, including Bradford Brewery and the 1875 Bar and Restaurant, provides further evidence of a new confidence in the city. Ivegate, which benefits from its location within the Growth Zone’s Priority Streets Scheme and only a stone’s throw from the eagerly anticipated Sunbridge Wells, appears to be well placed for a revival of its own.  Sunbridge Wells is set to become a unique destination, a warren of underground tunnel-connected bars, cafes, eateries and shops, and sure to be a must-visit destination for both Bradfordians and visitors to the district. The project has moved on a lot since we first went down there to make this video in 2015.

How can you contribute to the success story?

Have you thought about supporting a local independent shop near you? Buying from a local business sees your money re-invested into the local economy, supporting jobs and further growth. Have you thought about starting your own business and being part of the success story? Find out about the support available for both new and established businesses in the Bradford District.

As we monitor the impact of the Brexit vote we’re continuing to work with companies to deal with the challenges and make the most of new opportunities. We’d like you to tell us what you are doing to support our local economy.

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