Harrogate, and revolution – not two words which are normally closely associated. But quietly and assuredly, that’s exactly what’s happening; and at the heart of this transformation sits a growing digital economy.
As a proud Harrogate business, Berwins knows that our town is special, but we also recognise that this goes beyond being an attractive spa resort and key tourist destination for our region. It’s a view echoed by Harrogate Borough Council which, working with the Leeds City Region, has released the first draft of its economic growth strategy.
Recognising digital industries as an existing strength – our area already boasts some substantial technology businesses and digital agencies – the plan identifies these businesses as being ideally placed to offer well paid, rewarding and cutting-edge employment to attract and retain people in the area.
One of the key drives for this growing source of prosperity comes from Harrogate looking beyond the immediate area and being part of something bigger. In economic terms the Harrogate District – along with Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Kirklees, Selby, Wakefield and York – forms part of the Leeds City Region – the UK’s largest economy and population centre outside London, generating about 5% of England’s total economic output (£62 billion). Also boasting a population of over 3 million – and the largest workforce of 1.9 million in the north of England – it’s plain to see that being part of this wider group opens up a great many advantages to local businesses.
That Harrogate Borough Council is taking a lead on this, both through economic strategy and involvement with the burgeoning Harrogate Digital movement is key as it offers a defined framework through which local businesses can tap into the wider regional opportunities while ensuring those unique characteristics which make Harrogate such a dynamic place to do business are not lost.
Linking in with the expected adoption of the Economic Strategy and its identification as a key sector for growth, digital is set to be a key industry for the future of Harrogate. Based on the dynamism we see supporting digital businesses across the region, it’s an exciting future.
Paul Berwin is a specialist in Commercial and Digital law. He is chair of Harrogate Digital and a member of the strategic consultation group for Harrogate Borough Council’s economic plan.