Alistair talks about his role in the Harrogate Borough Council and Leeds City Region LEP.
18s: Alistair Forbes is the SME growth manager at Harrogate Borough Council. What is that? I help businesses to access different types of grant and financial support to grow their business. Based at the new Civic Centre. My job is 50% funded by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.
2mins 12s: Is any of the money from the European Union? Yes, the majority. That will probably be the same for the next 2 to 3 years even if we aren’t in the EU.
3mins 25s: How much money does Harrogate have? It’s regional funding which is distributed fairly across the districts. It depends on the types of businesses in the area, so West Yorkshire has more manufacturing businesses so are more likely to look at larger scale funding projects. This financial year, we are up to about £750,000 of grant funding, that’s between £2-3 million of actual business spend and the grant is there for a proportion of that.
5mins 29s: I have been working with a company called TechBuyer based on Hornbeam Park for about 3 years. They started with 35 staff and now have about 100. They refurbish and sell different types of data sensor equipment across the world. They bring a lot of income into our local economy.
7mins 40s: How has your work helped other people in the area? Good examples are enabling growth through supporting the entrepreneurial aspect of how businesses would see their plans turn out. The Strategic Business Growth Programme is a good example. People like Peter Dickinson have experience of working with businesses and getting them to where they want to be.
10mins 19s: How did you get started in this role? I’ve lived here about 5 years, so I could live with my wife and now new born child. I grew up in Lancashire near Blackburn. I have spent most of my working life in Manchester particularly in the private sector which gave me a lot of experience in how businesses work and limitations etc.
12mins 1s: Are there any particular difficulties Harrogate businesses have? The two big issues are the availability of commercial property and the second is around skills and people – the issue to recruit people with the right skills. Some people might prefer to work in a city as opposed to a small town.
15mins 42s: Tell us about Harrogate Digital. We set it up with Paul Berwin from Berwins Solicitors. There was a need for those in Tech to have somewhere to network. The next one we’re finalising is a partnership with Harrogate Film Festival, Adam Chandler is the main organiser of this.
17mins 20s: On LinkedIn there is a #SiliconDale. It is under-recognised that the number of technology businesses that have started and grown in Harrogate. Sky Bet originated in Harrogate!
19mins 8s: How to people contact you? If you are in the district and run your business and have an aspiration for growth – call the council number 01423 500 600 and ask to be put through to me or email me at [email protected] I am also on Twitter and LinkedIn. There is lots of opportunity for businesses in terms of external support.