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Home » Let’s Hear It For The Humber – Business Week Launches With Call For Unity Behind The Place

Let’s Hear It For The Humber – Business Week Launches With Call For Unity Behind The Place

Humber Business Week has provided the perfect platform to mount a clear call for collaboration when it comes to championing the region, helping bring investment, jobs and people to the Energy Estuary.

With Bondholder organisation Future Humber launching its latest tool to help attract and retain talent, the importance of a single story – to be shared by many – was made as delegates leafed through the Your Move glossy brochure, also available online.

And a place marketing expert was brought back to his roots to explain why he thought it was vital to the large audience of business leaders and public sector representatives, rubbing shoulders in an area that has struggled to define itself and navigate towards any desired devolution.

Read more: Humber Business Week highlights previewed from a packed programme

John Till, founding director of ThinkingPlace, returned to Hull where he studied at university, having also led City Image for seven years, helping to establish the initial Bondholders organisation.

Describing a feeling of incredible privilege to be invited to lead such a high-profile event, he said: “I spent the weekend walking around the banks of the Humber, and from 15 or 16 years ago I couldn’t believe the transformation. I can see it and feel it in this part of the world, which will always have a special place in my heart. Now it is about thinking differently and developing a shared view about this special place so in collaboration we can better tell this story.

John Till, founding director of ThinkingPlace, back in Hull for Let’s Talk Place – the launch event for Humber Business Week. (Image: Reach Plc) “Over recent years place has been the dominant agenda in every factor of life. Places really are experiencing the perfect storm and we’ve got to think about how we respond to this. There is only one place, and having a one story approach massively important, a shared forward-looking story.

“Selling the critical mass of the place is vital. You don’t have to lose the identity of places within it in promoting the Humber, but the emphasis has to be on unity. It is what government and what the private sector wants to see before they invest.

“The Humber is in a fantastic position compared to many. You have a fantastic geography dripping with assets, I urge you to connect and collaborate even more. Most places would cut their right arm off for what is in the Humber. Make the most of it.”

The week’s opening event was held at the MKM Stadium, with Mr Till joined by Tim Shaw, KCom chief executive, Jane Stafford, Hull University Student Union chief executive, cultural activist Charlotte Bowen and lead for culture and regeneration in North East Lincolnshire James Trowsdale, who was previously involved in Hull’s City of Culture.

Mr Shaw underlined the huge potential in digital, tech, decarbonisation and renewables, with the leading broadband connectivity ensuring the area has a critical advantage, while Ms Bowen, founder and creative director of The Culture House in Grimsby, told how Hull’s 2017 success – running through to the end of 2020 – had a major ripple effect as she felt attitudes turn.

“In the past there has been a lack of political will,” she said, having returned from London keen to lift aspiration through the arts and beyond. “We saw with certain decision makers how Hull City of Culture and Freedom Festival has done us a favour, because politicians can see what’s happening and see the impact. There has been more appetite since these bigger projects, on a basic level saying ‘can we have some of that in our town?’ It has been recognised that culture can be of value when telling stories of place, and there are so many stories to tell, historical and about the future.

Future Humber chair Bill Walker, in his last year as a Humber Business Week steering group member, launches the first Humber Business Week event, Let’s Talk Business. He is joined by John Till, Tim Shaw, Jane Stafford, Charlotte Bowen and James Trowsdale at the MKM Stadium, Hull. (Image: Reach Plc) “There is a contribution to raising pride levels, and it is important for people to recognise we are an intelligent place, home to lots of innovation.”

Mr Trowsdale added that “being part of the national conversation and being seen as a place where culture happened” was vital.

“We need to bring together the digital agenda and the renewables agenda and what that means in a cultural context,” he said.

Projekt Renewables, the green industry exploratorium planned for the world’s largest offshore wind operations and maintenance hub, is seen as key to that, and was showcased as part of the event.

Future Humber chair Bill Walker, announcing it was his last year on the steering group for Humber Business Week as it was time for “fresh and bright young talent” having been involved amost since the start, presented outgoing chair Kath Lavery with a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her 14 years of work too. “Who would have thought a politician would have led a dynamic business team for so long so well,” he quipped, describing her as a “really wonderful chair”. Rollits director Pat Coyle will succeed her.

He also explained the thinking behind the recent rebrand of what was Marketing Humber, with the board strengthening.

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