Attracting new jobs and investment to the M62/M1 crossroads

At Morley Town Hall today I helped to launch a report by Yorkshire Futures on how we can attract new jobs and investment to the area around the M62 and M1 crossroads.

People from across the community including local business representatives, Morley Town Council and our regional economic development agency came along for a first discussion on the report and the opportunities it sets out for our part of the country.

You can read my foreword to the report below or download the full report from the Yorkshire Futures website.

Foreword to the Yorkshire Futures report

This report sets out what we have to do together to attract new investment to the towns and industrial parks around the M62-M1 crossroads and create more skilled jobs for our communities.

We have great strengths, especially our excellent location and strong transport links. But there are also weaknesses we must address, particularly making sure all young people are getting the skills and qualifications they need to get on.

I know from my work as a member of both the Northern Way and Wakefield Way Taskforces how vital it is to have strong local leadership. I have been very impressed by Wakefield Council’s drive and economic ambition. And I know from talking to Town Councillors in Morley and the Morley Chamber of Trade that they too are very committed to getting the best investment and jobs into the area.

I believe that by involving local businesses, headteachers, developers and residents we can do what it takes to make sure our towns and communities succeed over the next few years.

There is no doubt that we are living through difficult times, with the global recession affecting communities across the country and around the world. But now is the time to invest for the future – in skills, innovation, transport, housing and our town centres. And we must invest in a way that preserves and strengthens the quality of life of local residents.

Investing in education is critical. Our region is well known for its tradition of hard work. But we need to do more to ensure every young person can go to college or get an apprenticeship so they also have the skills businesses need.

The solution is to get our schools working even more closely together – and with local businesses and our universities and colleges – to make sure every young person can succeed and choose a profession or trade. The local leadership in education we have seen in recent months is hugely encouraging.

The fact is, as the report says, there are lots of factors that make our part of Yorkshire particularly attractive to new investment. We have land available, and the best transport links. And we don’t suffer some of the pressures of development like rising land rents, the costs of scale and congestion that make southern regions more expensive.

And as communications technology increases mobility and speed of integration, there are strong attractions to locate outside the South-East, like new investments in airports and infrastructure, our expertise in logistics and manufacturing, world-class schools, colleges and universities, strong services and our regional media and communications.

This region led the industrialisation of the 19th century. And in the 21st century, I believe our region can lead again in Britain and in Europe. By listening to local people and businesses, and by working together to build on our strengths and tackle gaps, I am confident that our area will come out of this recession stronger than ever before with more jobs for the future.

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Posted July 24th, 2009 by Ed