Northern Powerhouse crucial to attracting foreign investment

Sharon Jandu believes Yorkshire is “sitting on a goldmine” if it can harness its links with the Indian sub-continent to do some real business. “There is so much potential for trade, investment and jobs,” she declares.

In her role as director of the Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA) she is looking to realise that potential.

The prize is great, according to report last year looking at the opportunity for the Northern Powerhouse in India.

It said that enhanced connectivity between the region and India could unlock up to 2,000 jobs and £400m in GDP for the North over the next five years.

Jandu, who is also heavily involved in the Yorkshire Chapter of Northern Asian Power (NAP), an organisation looking to showcase the economic achievements of the Asian community in region, says the key is raising the profile of what the region has to offer.

YABA has 3,500 members and she believes the Asian diaspora has a big role to play to accelerate relationships and build bridges that will lead to investment.

She said: “It is about breaking down barriers, talking to delegations and getting people here to visit.”

She points to the Yorkshire visit of Manohar Lal Khattar, chief minister of the Northern Indian state of Haryana, last year. He visited Leeds and the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield. “It was a real eye-opener for him,” Jandu added. “That was a breakthrough.”

She said: “It has taken 10 years to build momentum with China. Working together we can accelerate growth and relationships with India.”

YABA was also involved in the visit of a business delegation from India to the North and the Midlands last month. The visit was organised by the Federation of Indian

Rob Elvin

Rob Elvin, managing partner at Squire Patton Boggs, said he believes the Northern Powerhouse is making an impact internationally. He said: “You have got to bear in mind that brands are really important internationally.

“China understands regional strategies. They can see the idea of big cities joining up and being connected. They see the bigger projects around those cities.

“When it comes to Indian investment, it is slightly different. There is a tech and entrepreneurial focus.”

When it comes to inward investment he believes the North’s cities area seen as increasingly attractive as London overheats and investors look further afield.

That would seem to be the case according to figures last month, which showed Leeds was the fourth best-performing city in the UK when it came to foreign direct investments.

And it is not just foreign investment that is boosting the economy. The news that Channel 4’s new national headquarters will be in Leeds was the latest in a series of wins for the Northern Powerhouse region.