The cities of Yorkshire & Humber

Yorkshire & Humber has no fewer than five great cities—offering opportunities and a quality of life which are second to none. They all offer excellent business opportunities, thriving arts scenes, superb dining, loads to do and see, designer shopping, acclaimed heritage, and much more…


Bradford has become a model for city regeneration. So impressive is Bradford’s regeneration that it’s been tipped by research group OMIS as one of the UK’s top six cities poised and equipped for future growth. Already a manufacturing powerhouse, employment levels are rising (bucking the national trend) and regeneration has sparked diversification of the city’s economy. The service sector is now a formidable force in Bradford, with IT, financial services and environmental technologies spearheading the growth. Leeds Bradford International Airport serves 70 destinations in 30 countries, including North America and Asia.


With a population of around 750,000, Leeds is the economic capital of Yorkshire & Humber. It’s the most diverse of any of the UK’s top 15 employment centres, and biggest of the UK’s financial & business centres outside London. Leeds is also the country’s third-largest manufacturing centre, with 1,800 businesses employing some 39,000 people. Leeds is an award winning city with and has been voted:

  • 'Britain’s Best City for Business’ (OMIS)
  • ‘The UK’s Favourite City’ (Condé Nast Readers’ Travel Awards)
  • ‘The Best Place in Britain to Live’ (Henley Management Centre’s Urban Behaviours survey)
  • ‘The Best Place in Britain to Live’ (the Independent)
  • ‘The UK’s Sexiest City’ (Young Persons’ Railcard Poll)
  • ‘The Best UK University Destination’ (the Independent)
  • ‘The UK’s Best Shopping Destination’ (the Rough Guide to Britain)
  • 'Best city in Europe in terms of value for money of office space' (Cushman and Wakefield European Cities Monitor 2008).

Over two-thirds of the Leeds district is covered with greenbelt land, and the city centre is less than 20 miles from the Yorkshire Dales National Park. With over 200,000 students, the city has a vibrancy and a buzz that can only come from young people and the kind of outlets and events they attract. The past decade alone has seen £3.5bn of investment in major commercial, retail and residential property developments—with almost £7.3bn more committed to current and future projects.


York has a population of 185,000 people. An ancient city, rich in Roman and Viking history, it’s also growing fast in the science and technology sectors. Its dynamic business environment centres around a rapidly growing knowledge economy, while remaining underpinned by traditional industries. In 2007, York beat off 130 other cities to be named European Tourism City of the Year.

Major industries here include bioscience; cultural & creative; distribution; hotels & restaurants; transport & communications; confectionery, finance; and IT. Science City, centred on the University of York, is a world-class cluster of knowledge and commerce, while Bioscience York is one of the UK’s most exciting bioscience clusters, with over 54 companies and 3,700 life scientists.


With a GDP of over £7bn a year and economic growth ahead of the national average, Sheffield has a powerful economy. The city is home to a major cluster of market-leading creative, digital media and ICT businesses, as well as financial and legal specialists such as Abbey, Nationwide Building Society, HSBC, and Irwin Mitchell.

International trade is at the heart of Sheffield’s success, thanks to the highest level of funding assistance anywhere in Europe for inward investment. As well as traditional strengths in metals & glass technologies and legal & financial services, the city is a major centre for creative, digital media and ICT businesses, and is home to two of the largest applied e-learning services in the world.


Hull offers a thriving business environment which has proved irresistible to leading international companies such as BP, Northern Foods, Smith & Nephew and ARCO. 800,000 people are within a 45-minute drive of Hull, including 220,000 ABC1s with a comparison spending power of £1.9bn.

The city is one of the best-connected in the UK, with superb rail links and a gateway to Europe by sea. Hull & Humber has the largest ports complex in the UK, handling 16% of all UK's sea-borne trade. Hull itself is one of the UK’s few city-ports, offering a huge range of freight and passenger services to destinations throughout Europe and beyond. Recent years have seen port trade grow exponentially, and a rolling programme of investment (which has seen £72m spent on the port and infrastructure since 1990), including exciting plans for a brand-new deep-water terminal, will ensure Hull maintains its position as one of the UK’s pre-eminent ports and business locations.

Hull has the largest concentration of public limited companies in the region, and is home to global leaders in telecommunications, aerospace, petrochemicals, food and healthcare. Based adjacent to the Humber ports are some of the UK’s largest chemical-, energy- and food-processing sectors. And World Trade Centre Hull & Humber connects into 85 countries and 750,000 businesses.

  • Get the facts about Hull.
  • For details of investment in Hull, please visit Hull Forward.


Bradford: the facts and figures

Bradford: the facts and figures

Discover which of Bradford’s traditional industries are still going strong, and what’s new. Find out about Bradford’s population, and about the regeneration that’s going on—and about the economy, education, transport and more.

Hull: the facts and figures

Hull: the facts and figures

Hull is a busy modern city with a long history of international maritime trade. Discover how Hull has moved successfully into new industries, and find out the facts and figures which describe the city’s economy.

Leeds: the facts and figures

Leeds: the facts and figures

The capital city of the region and England’s most important financial centre outside London, Leeds is the ideal place to invest. It has the most diverse economy in Britain, and offers an excellent lifestyle close to beautiful open countryside.

Sheffield: the facts and figures

Sheffield: the facts and figures

Sheffield is one of Britain’s biggest cities, remaining strong in traditional manufacturing while branching out successfully into knowledge-based sectors. Find out more about Sheffield—its economy, its workforce, its businesses, transport links and more.

York: the facts and figures

York: the facts and figures

York may be embedded in millennia of history, but it’s also a thriving commercial centre with a strong focus on the sciences. Find out about the city’s population, business sectors, transport, leisure economy, and more.


Find out about the latest news about Yorkshire Forward and the region.