Business in York

A historic city founded by the Romans in 71 AD, modern York has a diverse economy and numerous thriving businesses. During the nineteenth century, York emerged as an important hub for England's railway network. It also became a major centre for confectionery manufacturing. More recently, York's economy has diversified away from chocolate manufacturing and railways towards the service sectors.

York's Economy

This shift from manufacturing and transport towards services started in the 1950s, but it was only during the 1980s the dominance of these two sectors was largely gone. During the 1990s and 2000s, various new sectors also began to develop an important presence in York including science, technology and creative industries. A new science park near the University of York is helping the city solidify its emerging strength in these sectors.

In 2014-15, York's unemployment rate was just 3.3 per cent - significantly lower than Great Britain's rate of 5.4 per cent and Yorkshire and Humber's rate of 6.1 per cent according to the Office for National Statistics. Once a major employer, the manufacturing sector employs just 10.1 per cent of York's workforce, while services employ an astounding 84.1 per cent. Other major sectors include public administration, education and health (28.4 per cent), financial and business services (16.4 per cent), wholesale and retail (16.2 per cent), and accommodation and food services (11.0 per cent).

Tourism is a significant player and employer in the local economy, while the health sector and the University of York are also major employers. With more than 7,500 employees, the City of York Council is York's largest employer. The biggest private sector employer is Aviva, which employs more than 2,000 people. Other top employers include Network Rail, Northern Rail, and York Hospitals NHS Trust. British Telecom (BT), CPP Group, Nestle, NFU Mutual and several railway companies based at York's historic railway station also employee many people in York.

The Office of National Statistics estimated that there were more than 51,000 businesses in York and the surrounding region of North Yorkshire and East Riding in 2015. Most businesses in York are small, about 89.1 per cent of businesses in York are micro enterprises with up to 9 employees. Just 0.3 per cent or 130 businesses are considered larger enterprises employing 250 or more staff. Small sized enterprises with 10 to 49 employees account for 9.4 per cent (4,815 businesses) of all businesses, while medium sized enterprises account for 1.3 percent (655 businesses)

York's Infrastructure

Located on the River Ouse and the heart of the Vale of York, the city's strategic location has long made it an important part of Great Britain's transport network. Originally a river port, York is linked to the rest of England and beyond by several long distance trunk roads. The A19 road connects York with Doncaster and Tyneside, while the A59 links the city with Liverpool. York is also served by A64, which runs between Leeds and Scarborough. The A64 also provides a direct link to the A1(M) and M1 motorways just 10 miles (15 kilometres) from the city. The M62 is also less than 20 miles (30 kilometres) from York. The A1079 also runs from York to Hull.

York has been a major railway hub since 1839 and the start of the railway age in England. Its elegant railway station is a major stop along the East Coast Mail Line from London to Newcastle and Edinburgh. London is just two hours from London by train. Frequent trains also connect the city with Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Airport, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, and other destinations throughout England and Scotland. The closest international airports are Manchester Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport, which offers flights to major destinations in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

Supports for Businesses

Make It York, a company owned by the City of York Council, is responsible for delivering economic development, tourism and cultural activities in the city. Part of Make It York is York Means Business, a web portal offering businesses information on funding and other supports include advice on finding premises, start-up finance and staff recruitment. The City of York Council also supports the Whyte Knight Fund with Aviva, one of the city's largest employers. The fund gives businesses access to up to £5,000 in match-funded loans at 1 per cent over the base rate, meaning there's a potential for 50 per cent of £10,000 for start-up costs.

Finance Yorkshire and Connect Yorkshire are other sources of business financing in the city, while the Arts Council England (Yorkshire) provides advice and support to companies in the arts and culture sector and the Key Fund supports social enterprises in Yorkshire and Humber. Businesses in the technology sector can access financing from the Viking Fund, while those in digital, TV, film and gaming industries are eligible for funding through the Screen Yorkshire Content Fund.

The Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership helps businesses based in York improve and develop their workforce's skills and expertise. Support and funding of between £500 and £50,000 is available to small and medium sized businesses with less than 250 employees. Training is employer led, meaning businesses can design their own programme to address needs and gaps. A wide range of courses and customised solutions for businesses are also available from the University of York, York St John University and York College.