‘We should see this situation as an opportunity to reset and repurpose our economy’ says Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan

Times are tough, we have all had to make difficult choices. During our national emergency response to the pandemic, our communities and economy have had to, in the main, temporarily shutter to help limit the number of infections and alleviate pressure on our NHS.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 3:11 pm
Updated Friday, 15th May 2020, 5:08 pm

Whilst economically we remain in hibernation, we should see this situation as an opportunity to reset and repurpose our economy, directing Wakefield’s economic strategy with a bold new vision.

Our economy faces a great challenge. This crisis will most likely lead to a recession the likes of which we have not seen in over a century. We must acknowledge and confront it. In doing so we must, as part of our response to the Coronavirus pandemic, enact a robust recovery strategy for our local businesses, in Wakefield and West Yorkshire region.

Just as when a Wi-Fi router ceases to process information it needs to be reset and switched off. Our economy is currently in this situation. The question is whether we reset to the default setting, or opt to upgrade.

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An empty Wakefield city centre.

Rather than return to how our economy once was, let us use this opportunity to upgrade Wakefield and our local economy to become again a vibrant and exciting place where companies wish to remain and others are attracted to invest and establish themselves in, where local families want to stay, and new families wish to settle down and young people come for new career opportunities.

Wakefield can become such a place if we all work together to make it happen. In a first step to achieve this, I have, alongside my strategic partners, hosted weekly online sessions to discuss the most pressing commercial issues for businesses and individuals in Wakefield throughout this crisis.

Pertinent and immediate commercial issues are debated, with action taken accordingly to ensure results. This is not a talking shop – we only meet to understand problems and together implement solutions. The meetings have been critical to kickstart the planning for the much needed economic recovery phase and I thank all who have been working to make them effective.

These meetings are one step towards achieving a mutual goal; creating an environment for existing professionals, entrepreneurs, businesses and families to thrive, and one which attracts the best and brightest of the national and international community to invest and operate in our city.

One particular initiative to emerge from these sessions, the creation of a ‘Business Together’ task force promises to be a powerful weapon as we strive together to capture our shared objectives for Wakefield. In its immediate form, this task force will provide professional guidance and advice to businesses in need. In the long term, it is the embodiment of the best of our commercial community, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of our businesses that will support Wakefield during the economic recovery phase.

All these efforts have been crucial to help pave the road to recovery, and in establishing Wakefield as a new economic hub. However, Wakefield’s economic recovery cannot be conducted in a vacuum and we must work with our regional partners to integrate and level up strategically. Business in Wakefield deservers clearer support, guidance and advocacy, which I am ready to roll up my sleeves and fight for. This coronavirus crisis should be seen as a chance to reset and repurpose our economy.

The efforts already made by Wakefield’s business community give me belief that this opportunity will be seized. By working together our coordinated and combined efforts in Wakefield can transform it into a beacon of professional enterprise and a new hub for investment, jobs and business.