Starting a business in York

This ancient walled city has developed into a modern hub of tech and finance. Should you start a business in York?

Why start a business in York?

Founded by the Romans in 71 AD, the walled city of York boasts a wealth of history and a rich heritage. Due to its position at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss, York established itself as a major trading centre, especially in wool and other textiles.

Today, the service industry, including the public sector, health, education, finance and information technology is responsible for the majority of employment in the city, whilst tourism is a major part of the economy.

In November 2015, York businesses voted to establish a Business Improvement District, a business-led partnership to improve the city’s environment, safety, events and business support. The scheme is being financed by a 1% levy on business properties.

York is well connected by rail to other Northern cities, just over 20 minutes to Leeds, around 80 minutes to Manchester and an hour to Sheffield. It takes around an hour to get to London from York.

With regards to international travel, the city is not served by its own airport but Leeds-Bradford is only 50 minutes driving time away.

York has a number of options for freelancers and businesses to co-work including creative space ACOLLECTIVE, York Hub and Blake House – all located in the heart of the city.

Access to talent in York

Though only established in 1963, the University of York has grown to become one of the UK’s leading academic institutions, boasting membership of the elite Russell Group and a student population of approximately 16,000.

The university is ranked 129th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2017 and listed as the 17th best UK university in the Times and Sunday Times university league table 2017.

York is also home to the smaller York St John University, which gained university status in 2006 and is home to around 6,500 students.

Access to business support in York

For a city of its size, York is fairly well served when it comes to business support. York Means Business is an organisation that is committed to helping businesses find the support they need to start-up, grow and locate in the city.

Not-for-profit organisation Business Support York & North Yorkshire provides business support services across York, Selby & Malton and the wider region. It provides links to a number of business related leadership and development training programmes, alongside paid for services such as bookkeeping, tax return, marketing and cash flow forecasting.

Since 2010, the city has hosted York Business Week – a week long series of events in November designed to advise, inspire and celebrate the city’s business community and credentials. Events include networking, business clinics and seminars on everything from finance to exporting.

The York Eco Business Centre is an A-graded office space in the Clifton Moor area, offering 63 office and studio premises for low-cost, flexible lease. The building features meeting rooms, a communal kitchen and networking opportunities. The centre has been designed to have minimal environmental impact, so you can conduct your business with an ecologically sound mind.

Additionally, there are a number of business and science parks in and around York including Oakwood Business Park, Esrick Business Park, York Science Park, Forest Business Park, Forest Farm Business Park and Blackwood Hall Business Park.

Access to grants and funding in York

There are currently no funding opportunities specifically for start-ups and small businesses in York, but there are a number of ongoing grants available in the North Yorkshire region.

The York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership is an enabler of organisations that support local economic growth. You can keep up to date with current or upcoming local funding opportunities via the website.

Let’s Grow North & East Yorkshire is a £4m Regional Growth Fund programme managed by the BE Group in partnership with Clive Owen LLP, which provides grant support for capital investment and R&D projects that will create jobs in the region. With a focus on manufacturing and services businesses, the fund can provide grants of between £25,000 and £1m, as well as 10% to 25% of the eligible project expenditure.

The York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is another good source of information about funding opportunities, local business events and services.

Quality of life in York

York is rich in history and certainly not short on attractions, museums and tours to enjoy.

The city largely avoided the industrial revolution and stuck to its status as a market town. While other cities became home to unsightly factories and heavy machinery belching black smoke, York retains many of its original buildings, its cathedral York Minster being the most impressive example.

The city offers a variety of shopping opportunities, from the unique boutiques hidden away down its cobbled medieval streets to the York Designer Outlet and Coppergate Shopping Centre.

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