While many business membership organisations might have struggled for numbers during recent times of austerity, one such body is thriving against a buoyant local economy.
The Bondholders, which is charged with marketing Hull to the world, has seen a significant upsurge in membership in the last six months.
Amid what the group calls “a time of unprecedented investment and opportunity for the region”, its base of members has swelled 25% to 250 since mid-2014.
Member organisations all make a financial contribution to the promotion of the area, as well as acting as ambassadors for the region.
The latest member is Danish-owned DONG Energy, one of the key players in the North Sea offshore wind industry that is bringing huge investment to the Humber estuary.
Grimsby is now firmly established as an operations and maintenance base for the offshore wind farms with DONG Energy choosing the town’s port as the location for a new £11m turbine operations and maintenance base.
Fellow energy companies Centrica, Eon, Siemens, Vestas and RES Offshore also have operations at the Port of Grimsby, where hundreds of jobs have been created related to the offshore wind industry.
DONG and its fellow Bondholders support major investments into Humberside including, on the Humber’s north bank, the development of Hull’s Alexandra Dock. Here £310m is being invested jointly by landowner Associated British Ports and global manufacturing giant Siemens, to create a wind turbine blade manufacturing and assembly facility.
Siemens will employ 1,000 people at the facility and the investment is expected to be a magnet for a substantial supply chain cluster.
Another major development, the Able Marine Energy Park at Killingholme on the Humber south bank, is expected to attract further multi-million pound investments which would firmly establish the estuary as the leading centre for a rapidly-growing new UK industry.
The Bondholders developed the region’s proposition as the UK’s Energy Estuary, reflecting its strength in traditional sources of energy, which is now being reinforced by the burgeoning green energy industry.
Originally, the Bondholders’ remit was to promote Hull and East Yorkshire, in order to attract investment, new jobs and talent, but the organisation has widened its focus over the past 18 months, recognising that the region’s key economic proposition is the Humber itself.
In the past year almost 50 companies, who are either based on the south bank or operate pan-Humber, have joined the network.
Bondholders Chair Peter Aarosin said: “To promote the Humber as the UK’s Energy Estuary it’s important that our members are drawn from across the estuary, so our membership growth is highly encouraging.
“By building our membership base on both banks of the Humber we’re reinforcing the vital message that the Humber is united in its determination to seize the opportunities we have for investment and job creation.
“To capitalise upon these opportunities we all need to be working together and speaking with one voice. By joining the Bondholders, companies can really make a difference by promoting the Humber as a great place to invest, to do business, to live and to visit.”
Recent Bondholders initiatives have included prominent signage promoting the region for investment and tourism at key gateways including the Port of Hull, Hull’s Paragon Transport Interchange and Humberside Airport.
The Bondholders has also produced publications to enable member companies to sell the area to potential recruits. The booklets, which are free to use by Bondholder companies, provide a wealth of information about the region to enable senior executives or young professionals to appreciate fully the many benefits of living and working in the area.
Parties interested in joining the bondholders should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01482 485 240.
Improving Chinese links
With UK projects reportedly top of Chinese investor shopping lists right now, it’s encouraging to see Yorkshire leading the way on a scheme to forge closer Sino/ British ties.
By 2025 China is apparently scheduled to invest £105bn in UK infrastructure, with property, energy and transport sectors set to be the big winners. This comes after it pumped £11.7bn into Britain between 2005 and 2013. The Centre for Economics and Business Research and the law firm Pinsent Masons reports huge appetite in China to invest in filling the UK’s infrastructural needs.
With so much to play for, then, British firms have an opportunity to get their share of such investment – if they can overcome the barriers of working with China.
Sheffield University may well have the answer. For it is to pilot a programme run by UK Trade & Investments (UKTI), which will give businesses access to Chinese language, business and cultural knowledge, while giving Chinese students an opportunity to gain experience.
Chinese students will be placed into businesses to help them in a range of ways – including advice on business etiquette and in navigating sites such as ebay-equivalent Tmall.
Foreign students have long been recognised as an under utilised resource in the fight for export trade and Sheffield University’s pioneering work will hopefully be felt by Yorkshire businesses in 2015.