As York and its business community look ahead to recovery post Covid-19, York Business Week will be making a virtual return for 2020, for its tenth year.
With an overarching theme of ‘Build Back Better’, 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 Make It York and hosted in conjunction with City of York Council, York & North Yorkshire LEP, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Federation of Small Businesses, York BID, the University of York, York St John University and the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.
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 first 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.
A special tourism mini conference will be held for businesses across the industry in the afternoon of the first day, as part of the wider Business Conference, to update on the city’s tourism strategy.
Greg Dyke, chair of Make It York, said: “Many businesses have faced overwhelming challenges in recent months, across all aspects of their operations. It is important now, in this time of economic recovery, that we look forward as a city, showcase our collective strengths and be ambitious about how we drive growth for the future.
“Transformational capital schemes like York Central and the Castle Gateway Redevelopment are uniquely placed to give York huge opportunities for medium term economic recovery.
“York has proven in history that it has the ability to reinvent itself and now in 2020, alongside the city’s wealth of business expertise across multiple sectors, we are well placed to reposition York as a business destination of the future. York Business Week is an important annual event in the city’s business calendar which reminds us of our city’s strengths and supports our businesses to build back better.”
Once again, in keeping with the tradition of the week, the programme kicks off with the York Business Conference on the morning of Monday, November 9, welcoming a series of expert speakers sharing their timely insights and how we can maximise York’s sector strengths in this period of revival and renewed focus.
Chaired by Make It York Chair Greg Dyke, the speaker line-up for the day includes David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chair of York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Andrew Digwood, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Rollits LLP, with further speakers to be announced shortly.
The focus for this year’s York Business Conference will be on recovery planning for the region’s businesses – looking at the challenges businesses face, how far we’ve come and the work still to be done to ensure the region successfully recovers – including how the EU exit will impact on this.
The conference will also offer the first virtual networking opportunity of the week giving businesses the opportunity to connect with new and existing contacts across the city in an informal discussion-led lunchtime session.
On Monday afternoon a special mini tourism conference will also be held virtually for businesses across the sector to get an update on the progress of the city’s tourism strategy and key milestones. Experts from across the industry will deliver a series of short sessions focused on tourism recovery, along with Make It York and City of York Council.
Tuesday will offer a carefully curated programme of seminar sessions and workshops focused on the three themes of skills, start-ups and sales.
A series of skills sessions will be delivered throughout the morning, with a workshop led by a York skills and education partnership. Despite the challenging business climate, inspiring entrepreneurial innovation remains high on the agenda for the city and start-up seminars delivered by AD:VENTURE will focus on the Early Stage of developing your business, Investment and Growth.
‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ will tackle a host of relevant issues facing businesses of all sizes, in all sectors with topics focused on wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.
Development expert and coach, Michelle Mook will lead a session focus on working remotely and how to keep teams motivated. Langleys Solicitors LLP will be offering a guide to essential HR matters during lockdown and beyond, including restructuring businesses, mental health during a pandemic and business immigration in light of the EU Exit. Mark Willis from York Mind will also be leading on a session titled Looking after you: ten keys to mental wellbeing which will be an interactive session for individuals to help calm their minds in this Covid storm.
Thursday will focus on the themes of Leadership and Innovation and businesses can choose from sessions throughout the day including ‘Leadership in Lockdown’ with Michelle Mook, and an ‘Innovation in Action’ session led by Dr Jo North from The Big Bang Partnership.
BioVale and York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership are hosting a food waste innovation workshop on 12 November, as part of the wider Circular Yorkshire Month which runs throughout November. Throughout the day there will also be a ‘Business Growth Hub Pop-up’ with experts on hand to offer short one to one sessions with businesses on a range of topics – from finance and HR to social media and marketing.
The week will conclude on Friday with city focus sessions, including the York narrative project and how businesses can use it to tell their own story and promote themselves across the UK and beyond.
Sean Bullick, managing director at Make It York, said: “Supporting the city’s jobs and businesses is our number one priority. We’ve all worked together very closely together through the covid-19 crisis, ensuring local businesses had the support they need, and bringing a range and breadth of businesses together through virtual roundtables alongside our key partners, to gather the intelligence to inform the city’s recovery plans.
“We’re very optimistic about the real strengths of York’s key business sectors and very positive about the future. We’re hosting York Business Week virtually this year and have an exciting programme, bringing together local, regional, national and international speakers and businesses to raise their profile and to discuss the current range of issues and challenges including post-COVID recovery, devolution, the opportunities of the knowledge economy, and the EU exit.”
Executive member for Economy and Strategic planning, Coun Andrew Waller, said: “Our key priorities through the pandemic have been the health and wellbeing of everyone in York and supporting the city’s varied and vibrant economy.
“Throughout the pandemic we have worked to support businesses through financial grants and a considerable amount of work went into reopening the city centre, and supporting the return of customers for retail and hospitality. We have recognised the importance to York’s economy of small independent businesses throughout.
“This is an important time for the city’s businesses to come together and get the support and information they need to continue their recovery. We are determined to work with Make It York and other partners to overcome the challenges presented by Covid-19 and enable York Business Week to make a virtual return.
“The programme offers relevant, timely and responsive information for businesses from all sectors and to help the city with our goal of building back better. It is only by working in partnership across the whole city that we will ensure the future prosperity of York’s economy with a fairer, greener economy with more local options to build new careers.”