A leading aerospace manufacturing expert has been appointed to the newly created role of Business Advisor to the West Yorkshire Mayor, it can be announced.
Mandy Ridyard, of Bradford-based firm Produmax, will chair a new board of local council and private sector leaders, tasked with driving forward Mayor Tracy Brabin’s pledge to champion the regional economy.
The move follows the launch of the West Yorkshire Plan, written in partnership with the region’s council, charity and business leaders, which sets out a mission to deliver economic growth and higher living standards.
Ms Ridyard has pledged to listen to the region’s diverse base of almost 100,000 businesses, ensuring that their challenges and opportunities are understood by the Mayor and five council leaders of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.
Commenting on her appointment, Mandy said: “I can’t wait to get stuck into this new role, where I’ll draw on the strengths of all our businesses and sectors, offering a listening ear and making sure their voices are heard.
“As the Mayor’s business advisor, I’ll be laser focused on economic growth – supporting our businesses to boost their productivity, build their resilience, access talent, become more sustainable and innovate for the future.
“With the Mayor’s devolved powers and funding, this is a unique opportunity to transform our ecosystem and create an environment where businesses can thrive, creating well paid jobs and raising living standards for all.”
By bringing together businesses and agreeing how best they can be supported, the Mayor’s Business Advisor will help to influence private and public sector partners at home and abroad, delivering jobs, investment and opportunities to local people.
Ms Ridyard will also work closely with business representative organisations such as the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, to help ensure the needs of different clusters of businesses are met by the region’s political leadership.
In West Yorkshire, these internationally significant business clusters include digital and healthcare technology companies, advanced manufacturing businesses across textiles and furniture, and precision engineering firms specialising in satellites and telecommunications.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Mandy’s appointment as business advisor marks an exciting new chapter in our West Yorkshire story – one where all our businesses are listened to and lifted up to reach their full potential.
“As someone who moved to West Yorkshire to start and scale a business, Mandy understands the challenges and opportunities our business community faces because she’s lived them herself.
“By match-funding businesses to green their processes, upskilling and retraining staff to meet labour market needs and investing in local entrepreneurs and startups, we’re growing our economy and building a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire”.
Ms Ridyard, whose aerospace engineering firm was hailed “SME of the Year” in 2021 by manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, has chaired various regional business groups including Space Hub Yorkshire, the West Yorkshire Innovation Network, and the West Yorkshire Digital Skills Partnership.
Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Business, Economy and Innovation Committee, said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Mandy Ridyard to her new role as business advisor to the Mayor of West Yorkshire.
“As we transition away from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) toward the regional mayor’s business board, I am keen to continue and build on the track record of success the LEP achieved. Most notably, the LEP secured a £1 billion-plus, Local Growth Deal, the largest such deal in the country. This helped transform the Leeds city region's economy through investment in infrastructure, housing, and business support.
“With Mandy’s award-winning entrepreneurial and business experience, her track record of advising politicians, and her proven leadership in strategy and culture change, I am sure we can continue to build strong and enduring public-private and third-sector partnerships that will carry us to new heights of success.”