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June is a very special month for the city of Wakefield. Whilst most people start to turn their attention to a well-earned summer break and some time away, there’s no slowing down in West Yorkshire as the business community gears up for Wakefield Business Week.

Now in its 5th year, Wakefield First and Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce team up to bring the city, Wakefield Business Week – a range of events for businesses being held across the Wakefield district!

Aimed at driving economic growth in the region, and getting more businesses in the Wakefield community connected, it’s a must attend event for local companies.

I’ve had the launch event of Wakefield Business Week in my diary for some months now, so when my alarm went off on Tuesday morning, it wasn’t a case of hitting snooze and rolling over, but more jumping out of bed.

I was eager to find out what Wakefield Business Week had in store over the forthcoming days, see some familiar faces and, most importantly, hear from some fascinating speakers who were kick starting the proceedings at Production Park in South Kirby.

Production Park is somewhat of a hidden gem. So much so, that I drove past it the first time on my way to the event. I have to say though that it was one of the most unique venues that I have ever attended an event at.

Pitched as the complete pre-production and live events centre for the UK, Production Park usually plays host to some big-name bands including Biffy Clyro and The 1975. On Tuesday, it had the pleasure of welcoming over a hundred delegates, a councillor, an OBE and a (really useful!) business owner.

The launch event started bright and early at 8.15am giving people the time to register, network and breakfast on some very tasty food, before official proceedings began. After a cup of tea and some small talk it was time to take our seats for the main event.

Leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Cllr Peter Box, started by welcoming everyone to the event. It was then over to Andy Wallhead, Interim Chief Executive of Wakefield Council to give an economic update on the district. It was good news from him and even greater news for the district! Wakefield is thriving.

Next up was Roger March, OBE Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership who continued with the positivity.

He highlighted the funding and business support available for SMEs and pre-starts and drove home the need to grow business. Roger may be regretting making that point now!

It was then the turn of keynote speaker, Mike Pickles, Owner of Really Useful Products to take to the stage. We all know that one way to warm up a crowd is to crack a few jokes, but Mike took an alternative approach showing some old family photographs.

Showcasing the different sides to himself – the family man, the sports fan, the jetsetter and the business man, we really got to see what Mike was all about.  Mike had the audience laughing out loud at some of his legendary haircuts and fashion choices. After breaking the ice, Mike went on to explain how the business came about, how it got to where it was today and what the future holds.

It was really fascinating to hear from Mike and I came away from his talk thinking that you can be whoever you want to be as long as you work hard and dare to dream. He seemed to instil confidence in the whole room and I am sure that I am not the only way who came away thinking – yes, I can really do this.

Amongst Mike’s other really useful tips for business was the following:

1.       Always do your best

2.       Work hard – not for the money but the achievement

3.       Take your responsibility of creating long term employment seriously, expect achievement in return

4.       Always be prepared to go the extra mile

5.       Be the best in whatever you do

6.       Embrace change

7.       Continuously improve

8.       Expect to get knocked down but bounce back

9.       Have fun!

10.   DREAM BIG

He also spoke about his ambitions for the company and what the future looks like for Really Useful Products. Above all it boiled down to this …. Business growth = more productivity, more products, more machinery and more job creation. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The final words were given to Adrian Brooks, the owner of Production Park, the person who had allowed Wakefield Business Week to take up residency at this amazing venue. Much like the other speakers one thing that came out of Adrian’s talk was positivity and the vision and mission of Production Park.

Adrian played a video that summed up Production Park in images. I was fascinated to learn that the place had hosted some of the biggest bands in the world; and to think this place is located just down the road!

One thing that Adrian asked us to do every time someone mentioned Wakefield during Business Week was to cheer. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be cheering a lot for the district, not just this week but in the future too!  

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