At Grant Thornton UK, we believe the economic future of the UK is closely intertwined with the future of its great cities and regions. Challenges from innovation to wellbeing and productivity will be addressed primarily by the UK’s urban centres, the engines of economic progress.
If we want to unlock the full potential of the UK’s businesses, cities and communities, then we have to encourage collaboration across sectors and work together to explore the opportunities and challenges that currently face our economy.
Our vision for a vibrant economy is one where ideas, knowledge and best practice are shared, connecting people who otherwise would have no chance of meeting. That is why we are conducting a nationwide set of Inquiries, focused on capturing and harnessing the experiences and expertise inherent in cities across the country.
Vibrant economy and Leeds
I am thrilled to welcome the Inquiry process to Leeds on 31 January. The UK’s fastest growing city, home to the largest financial and legal services industry outside of London, a developing centre of innovation and a retail hub like no other, Leeds epitomises urban vibrancy and modern economic progress.
Anyone who lives and works in our city has seen the transformation that Leeds has recently undergone. From the new Victoria Gate development that has refreshed the market area to the innovation district emerging between our two world-class universities, it’s clear that Leeds’s strengths are not limited to one sector, but stretch across the board. Yet, challenges exist.
While the city centre is booming and wealthy suburbs thrive to the north and the east of the city, elsewhere, there are serious levels of deprivation that are limiting people’s potential and happiness.
Helping Leeds overcome its challenges through collaboration
According to the Vibrant Economy Index, the city ranks below average for inclusion and equality, unemployment is too high and economic prosperity is not enjoyed by all. If we fail to step up and make certain changes then the entire city and city region’s potential will be forever held back.
That is what the Live Lab is all about: embracing what makes our city and our city region great, seeking new opportunities between the private, public and third sectors and working together to resolve some of Leeds’s greatest challenges.
By developing stronger working relationships between the city’s businesses, charities, institutions and others, Leeds has the potential to be a centre of commercial success where growth is enjoyed by the many, not the few.
For me, a vibrant economy is one that works better for everybody; one that fuels a society where everyone has a part to play, irrespective of who they are and where they come from. I want our event to be a crucial step towards giving everyone in this city and the city region the confidence and the permission to get involved.
While the day’s focus will be broad, it has been designed to connect people and bring them together in the pursuit of a common goal: inclusive growth for Leeds and the city region.
I have no doubt that, together, we can make this a reality and develop a truly vibrant economy in Leeds.