SYMCA announces new local-led Business Advisory Board

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) has unveiled the membership of its new Business Advisory Board, made up of some of South Yorkshire’s brightest and best business leaders.

Committed to growing South Yorkshire’s economy and driving business growth in the region, the Board will capitalise on South Yorkshire’s momentum after it was designated the UK’s first Investment Zone in July 2023.

The Board is made up of business leaders, who together will work with the Mayoral body to challenge, champion success and ensure the business voice is heard loud and clear.

The Board will be co-chaired by Louisa Harrison-Walker, representing the three South Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce, and Tariq Shah OBE, Director of the Vigo Group – a leading, sustainability-driven, transformational property enterprise. Both are leading South Yorkshire’s business revolution.

Members of the Board are: Co-chair: Louisa Harrison-Walker representing the three South Yorkshire Chambers (Barnsley & Rotherham, Doncaster, and Sheffield) Co-chair: Tariq Shah OBE, Director at Vigo Group; Rachel Abbott representing the Cutlers, South Yorkshire International Trade Forum, Manufacturers Forum and Made In Sheffield; Dawn Huntrod representing MakeUK; Paula Gouldthorpe representing the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB); Angela Foulkes representing the South Yorkshire Skills Advisory Board (SYSAB); Liz Blackshaw representing the Northern Trade Union Congress; Sherry Kothari, Chief Executive, Plasma 4; Roz Davies, Chief Executive, Green Estate; David Cross, Chief Executive and Architect, Sky-House; Richard Gould, Sales Director, Metlase; Ken Perritt FCILT, Senior Director, GXO Logistics.

The Board will deep dive into the urgent and important issues facing our region. It will provide much-needed insight to help shape and design innovative policies and programmes and positively challenge SYMCA and partners to ensure local support really works for businesses and communities.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said: "I'm hugely excited to launch our new Business Advisory Board. South Yorkshire’s economy has been too small for too long, and fixing that problem is central to my ambitions as Mayor.

"I couldn’t be more pleased to have such a brilliant group of people to work with in addressing that challenge. It’s a brilliant group of people that showcases the immense, diverse talent we have across the region. The Business Advisory Board will play a vital role in our plans to turbo charge economic growth, offering both advice and insight, helping me to restore the pride, purpose and prosperity of South Yorkshire.”

Director of Vigo Group Tariq Shah OBE said: "As someone proudly from Doncaster, I am delighted to have been appointed to SYMCA’s Business Advisory Board. This group demonstrates SYMCA’s commitment to fostering economic growth and prosperity.

"The board's diverse composition, featuring leaders from various industries and business stages, reflects an inclusive and collaborative spirit. I commend Mayor Oliver Coppard and SYMCA for prioritising not only business success but also improving lives equitably, aligning with Vigo Group's values.

"The recent designation of South Yorkshire as the UK's first Investment Zone positions the region on a global stage. I believe the Business Advisory Board will play a pivotal role in capitalising on this momentum, driving business success nationally and internationally.

"I am optimistic about the transformative impact the board will have on our local businesses and communities. This is a commendable step towards ensuring that SYMCA's efforts align with the evolving needs of our dynamic region. I express my gratitude to SYMCA and Mayor Oliver Coppard for their dedication to South Yorkshire's economic and social well-being."

Representative of South Yorkshire Chambers, Louisa Harrison-Walker said: "As a representative of South Yorkshire Chambers, I applaud the step taken by SYMCA in establishing this Board. This collaborative initiative, featuring a broad and diverse section of the region's successful business leaders, will be an excellent means of leveraging our recent designation as the UK’s first Investment Zone.

"The BAB's composition of 12 industry representatives, working in tandem with local businesses, ensures a direct line of communication to SYMCA, reflecting our commitment to inclusivity and effective representation. This initiative is pivotal in shaping policies that genuinely resonate with the needs of our diverse businesses and communities.

"Mayor Oliver Coppard's plan to use the Board as a collaborative forum with other local authority leaders aligns with our regional ethos of partnership and will act as a facilitator – bringing together the best ideas in the region, using economies of scale to ensure that they level-up the area.

"The BAB's deep dive into urgent regional issues is commendable – we know that there are issues unique to South Yorkshire they need to help us address. I look forward to working with the Board, which, I hope, will provide invaluable insight for the shaping of innovative policies for our region. Selection for Board roles was tough – demand was high. I’m confident that we will be able to rise to the challenge.”

Andrew Gates, SYMCA Director for External Affairs said: “The Business Advisory Board is made up of private sector representatives from a range of industries and from key business representative organisations. It will enable SYMCA to harness a broad spectrum of expertise to inform key decisions on how to grow South Yorkshire’s economy in a way that improves lives equitably.

"SYMCA has appointed experts from a wide range of sectors, from different types of organisations, and from businesses at different stages of growth - from start-ups to more established businesses.

"The new Business Advisory Board will provide regional business input into the work of SYMCA".

The board will meet six times a year, initially for the next two years. Its role is to shape South Yorkshire’s thinking on short and long-term issues of importance to businesses and the region’s economic future, and will ensure these are heard and considered by the MCA to inform its decisions.

The BAB will develop thinking on MCA priorities within the agreed remit and core priorities where the business voice can bring most added value while allowing for agility to respond to emerging issues, and cover a range of business topics that the MCA is directly involved with and where in-depth business input strengthens its thinking, supports delivery, and secures backing.