UKREiiF: Bringing Business to Leeds

You might find Leeds busier than normal this week. Nearly 13.000 business and political leaders have flocked to the City for the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum, better known as UKREiif.

UKREiiF began three years ago, when the 3 day event attracted 3,500 attendees. Organisers credit the spectacular growth of the event to the welcome they have received in Leeds, alongside the diverse programme on offer. Leeds has already been announced as the location for UKREiiF 2025.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, speaking at UKREiiF

Opening the Conference, Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: 

“With booming cities, bustling towns and beautiful countryside, businesses are flocking to
West Yorkshire for our work-life balance and staying for the promise of greater public
investment in transport and skills.”

She went on to talk about the importance of growing up in secure accommodation and her own experience of living in council housing in Batley. It was refreshing to hear council housing described as secure accommodation, although it seems unlikely we will see the return of the directly controlled council housing that she and I both grew up in.

The Mayor made a commitment to retrofitting, building and building in partnership in order to improve housing stock and infrastructure across West Yorkshire. Brabin emphasised that building should not be viewed in a vacuum: transport, education and culture were highlighted as important features of our region that make it an exciting place to live and do

In terms of education, West Yorkshire’s riches include universities, FE colleges and apprenticeships. In terms of transport, she made a commitment to bring buses back under public control and that ‘spades will be in the ground’ to build a new mass transit system by 2028.

Finally the role of culture in regional development was highlighted. Brabin talked about how she had been approached by National Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and backed his plan to appoint West Yorkshire Young Poet Laureates. The scheme developed with the mayor’s office saw poetry workshops in primary and secondary schools across the region, culminating with a competition that recognised a junior and secondary poet laureate.

Alina Brdar, who is in year 5 at Lydgate Primary School in Batley, is the junior section Young Poet Laureate. Brabin finished her speech by inviting Alina to read a poem she had written for the event, which embraced her Yorkshire heritage. Notable phrases were feeling ‘not too shabby’ and going a trip ‘to City Square on the Mayor’s fare.’ A great welcome to Yorkshire.

At the bright “West Yorkshire Pavilion”, delegates will be invited to a series of panel discussions with private sector firms, looking at themes including harnessing AI, acting on net zero, using culture for regeneration, building a regional tram system and delivering the West Yorkshire Investment Zone, which aims to create more than 2,500 new jobs and £220 million of investment.

This year’s event promises to have a focus upon sustainability and Equality and Diversity. UKREiiF Chief Executive Keith Griffiths, in his programme introduction, said he believed that this emphasis was having an impact on the whole industry. A number of events aim at diversifying the construction industry and making it more sustainable. Look out for an article on the Constructive Futures organisation on Leeds Living.

The exhibition will culminate on Thursday with a conversation between Mayor Brabin and the newly elected Mayor of York and North Yorkshire, David Skaith, who will speak together publicly for the first time about their collective ambitions for Yorkshire.

This is a national conference that will showcase regions across the country. Based at The Royal Armouries from 21-23 May, the staging of UKREiiF shows the capability of Leeds to organise major events whilst also showcasing Leeds as a destination for business and living.

Main image: UKREiiF Investor Breakfast.

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