Shaping the renewal and recovery of the city’s future as the York Business Conference goes virtual for 2020

Economic recovery, resilience, the EU Exit and tourism recovery will set the agenda for this year’s York Business Conference on Monday 9 November, which will be kick-starting this year’s virtual York Business Week.  The week-long event is organised by Make It York and hosted in conjunction with City of York Council, York & North Yorkshire LEP, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Federation of Small Businesses, York BID, the University of York, York St John University and the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.  

Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York will welcome a series of expert speakers to the conference, sharing their timely insights and exploring how we can maximise York’s sector strengths in this period of revival and renewed focus. The Business Conference this year will be split into three main sessions: covering Economic Recovery and Resilience and the EU Exit over the morning sessions and a mini Tourism Conference for the afternoon, focused on the progress of the city’s tourism strategy and key milestones.  

Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, said: 

“I am delighted to be part of York Business Week in its 10th anniversary year. The programme for the week is very topical for this year, with York’s vibrant business community coming together to deliver a variety of excellent events throughout the week. 

We will be kicking off on Monday with a special virtual York Business Conference and I am looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces. The day promises to be full of insightful presentations from expert speakers delving deeper into the ways to maximise York’s strengths and working closely to drive growth together and Build Back Better.” 

In session one, Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, will open the conference and share the challenges that the city faces in economic recovery. David A Kerfoot MBE DL, Chairman of York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership will examine the approach to recovery support and looking to the future.  Beckie Hart, Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber from Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will be exploring what happens now for recovery. Jon Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors (IoD) will talk about what we do need to grow in the context of economic recovery and resilience.  The session will conclude with a panel discussion and an opportunity for questions. 

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said: 

“I very much look forward to opening the conference and welcoming everyone to York’s first virtual Business Conference.  It is of course a significantly challenging period for city and our local business community, but there is also a considerable amount of work taking place to build back better form the pandemic.  Therefore, it is incredibly important that we can come together to share best practice and discuss how we can best drive recovery in the city.” 

Beckie Hart, Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber from Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 

“I am looking forward to speaking at the virtual York Business Conference next month as part of the 10th anniversary York Business Week. In the current environment, it is more important than ever for York business community to come together and look at the future of our local economy and how we can drive the recovery forward.” 

Session two will be opened by Andrew DigwoodPresident of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Rollits LLP¸ with speakers tackling the topic of the looming EU Exit and what the impact will be for businesses in 2021 and beyond. Allie Reninson, Head of EU and Trade Policy for the Institute of Directors (IoD) will examine what is facing businesses, what they need to know and how they can prepare for life out of the EU. As a major global business with roots in York, Matt Beddoe, Head of Procurement at Nestle will share how they have prepared for the changes that may come. The session will again conclude with a panel discussion and an opportunity for questions. 

Andrew Digwood, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Rollits LLP, said: 

“I am delighted to be involved in the 10th York Business Week this year and am looking forward to opening the second session of the York Business Conference on Monday. As the UK is set to leave the EU single market in January 2021, many businesses are getting ready for the changes to come in the very near future. Working and sharing information together is the best way to prepare for and manage the impact of the EU Exit on businesses in all sectors of York’s business community. It promises to be an insightful and useful session and I look forward to this virtual event.” 

A hot topic of discussion, the afternoon session will focus on the future of the tourism sector with industry experts and organisations from across the city giving their insights on tourism recovery. Chaired by Cllr Darryl Smalley, the session will kick off with an update from Make It York on the tourism recovery marketing strategy and focus for activity in the run up to Christmas.  

Keynote speaker Signe Jungersted, CEO of Group NAO, will be joining the conference to deliver a session on ‘Coming out of the Crisis: What Now?’, with a focus on the future of tourism post covid-19. Delegates will also hear from VisitBritain with an update on their current marketing campaign ‘Escape the Everyday’ and national tourism insights, and Welcome to Yorkshire with their ‘A Yorkshire for All – a place to Visit, Live, Work & Study’ 2021 strategy update. 

Signe Jungersted, CEO of Group NAO said: 

“Tourism will return, but changed. Much like our destinations. We are not going back to normal, we are moving ahead to a new era – and the whole idea of building back better is about not awaiting what comes, but actively starting to shape and create it within our destinations. It’s tough, really tough. But there is no other way than through it, and so, the question is how and where we want to end up. I’m really looking forward to exploring these issues at York Business Week this year and discussing the future of the sector with businesses across York’s tourism industry.” 

The tourism session will close with a panel discussion and Q&A with organisations and businesses across the city on plans for tourism recovery, including York BID, Hospitality Association York, English Heritage, City of York Council and Make It York

The York Business Conference programme will also offer the first virtual networking opportunity of the week giving businesses the opportunity to connect with new and existing contacts across the city in an informal discussion-led early evening session. 

To make the week as accessible as possible to all businesses, all events within York Business Week, including the York Business Conference, this year will be free of charge. Topical seminars, thought-provoking workshop sessions, online networking opportunities and the city’s first virtual York Business Conference will offer something for all York businesses from sole traders to global businesses, opening up access to industry-leading insights from the comfort of their own offices or remote working spaces.  

York Business Week 2020 is sponsored by 11 Principal Partners: Ad:venture; Autohorn; BHP; York and North Yorkshire LEP; Garbutt + Elliott; Hentons; Langleys, University of York; York City Knights; York Data Services; and PIB Insurance Brokers. 

The conference takes place from 09:00 – 17:00 on Monday 9 November and is the first event of York Business Week 2020. To book tickets and for the full programme across the week visit For the latest updates follow #YorkBizWeek20 on @makeityork Twitter. ENDS 

For further information please contact: 

Katie Parsons – Corporate Communications Manager  
Mobile: 07719 105 089 

Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive 

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