The widened community will enable businesses across more Northern regions to collaborate, develop new business connections and access more growth opportunities.
The Northern Affinity, a Leeds-based business community powering growth and development, is expanding its footprint across the North by adding two further regions to its portfolio.
From March, businesses in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire will each benefit from the chance to be a part of a specialist support group, attend regional events and a platform to collaborate and connect.
The expansion comes as the firm recognises little progress from outside parties in closing the ever-widening North/South Divide – its overarching mission – and the economic potential of both Manchester and South Yorkshire.
Manchester is home to 22,850 enterprises and with up to 40% lower operating costs than London and a GVA (£62.8 billion) higher than the UK average.
A new Strategic Economic Plan was announced for South Yorkshire earlier this year, aiming to secure its recovery from COVID-19 and transform the area’s economy.
By launching in regions which show significant economic potential, The Northern Affinity says it is demonstrating a commitment to support entrepreneurs and business owners who are passionate about and dedicated to putting the North on the map.
“Being in a position to be able to expand across the North of England makes us feel like we are just that little bit closer to closing the gap,” said Michael Edwards, founder of The Northern Affinity.
“Businesses need to see that there are opportunities for them to bounce back without having to move to the South or compete with the South for that matter,” he added.
The Northern Affinity is a partner of the Northern Powerhouse and brings together business owners to provide a platform to power growth and development through ongoing support and collaboration.
With 61 West Yorkshire-based businesses already becoming partners and interest growing from leaders in other regions, Michael says now was the perfect time to expand across the North.
“A lot of businesses are hurting right now due the lack of support they’ve received during the heart-breaking COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve witnessed our partners each benefit from the supportive network that The Northern Affinity provides, and we want to offer other regions the same opportunity,” he said.
Beyond traditional connection opportunities and events, the expansion into Manchester and South Yorkshire will enable businesses within these regions to showcase their work, celebrate successes and connect with other like-minded business owners across the North.
Michael added: “Our aim is that the new groups will play a role in the ongoing economic success and development of these areas and the wider Northern Powerhouse. I encourage any prospective partners to attend our virtual launch events to find out more.”
Michelle Cowan, founder of Justo Software and a partner of The Northern Affinity said: “Joining the Northern Affinity has been a great business move for us. I’ve been able to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and created new growth opportunities which we wouldn’t have been able to tap otherwise.
“It’s a supportive and friendly environment but backed by the big picture goals of growth and economic opportunity. I’d strongly encourage businesses in Manchester and South Yorkshire to attend the launch events and hear more.”
Official launch events will take place virtually towards the end of March.