Leading employer's green jobs call
Businesses urged to give Hull's young people a Green City future.
The chief executive of a major Hull employer has urged businesses to seize the opportunity offered by the city's Green City vision to give local young people a future.
Charlie Spencer, Chief Executive and founder of specialist engineering business Spencer Group, hailed the region's 'renewables revolution' and the vision of Hull as the UK's greenest city as huge opportunities for local businesses to create long-term jobs.
Mr Spencer was among the speakers at the Green City conference at Hull City Hall during Humber Business Week. Other speakers included Nicola Yates, Chief Executive of Hull City Council, and University of Hull Vice-Chancellor Calie Pistorius.
Civic and business leaders heard how the Spencer business had grown from just two employees in 1989 to more than 400 today, 130 of them at the company's headquarters at One Humber Quays in Hull.
Mr Spencer said:
'Our city has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for economic prosperity. The Humber region is predicted to benefit from up to £14bn of investment in renewable energy, creating thousands of skilled, sustainable jobs.
'It is vital that these jobs are kept local and that businesses in Hull and the Humber region capitalise on this opportunity to build a strong, sustainable local economy.
'Our business has come from small beginnings and seized opportunities along the way to grow, in a sustainable way, to where we are today.
'I believe the low carbon economy and the Green City vision present long-term opportunities for Hull businesses that are serious about being sustainable.
'The Green City Initiative is all about the future of our kids. Going green is good for business and makes good business sense. So be ready to seize the opportunities. Let's keep those jobs local, as far as we can, and let's give our young people the future they deserve'.
Mr Spencer is a member of the Green City Group and said Spencer Group was totally committed to playing its full part in delivering the vision.
'The Green City vision is now defined and we are developing the objectives and critical success factors to make it become a reality,' he said. 'This will need full support from across the community.'
Mr Spencer said the Spencer Group's plans for a £100m-plus energy recovery plant in Hull - the first of its kind in the UK - was an example of the Green City in action. Energy Works will cut waste going to landfill by 90 per cent; increase recycling; create 200 jobs in the construction phase and 60 full-time jobs once operational; regenerate a brownfield site; and enable other businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
'It represents an environmentally-friendly way for the local community to deal with its own waste while producing enough low-carbon energy to power 25,000 homes', he added.
Mr Spencer told the conference how he started the business with his wife in 1989 from the front room of their house in Anlaby, with a £10,000 loan against their property. He said that gave him six months before he had to get a 'proper job', but the business quickly flourished.
Soon Mr Spencer rented the business's first offices, above a hairdressing salon in Barton upon Humber, then later established larger premises in nearby Barrow, which the company still retains today.
He described how sustainability was at the heart of the business. For example, a range of measures had reduced significantly the carbon footprint of One Humber Quays, including solar panels on the roof and advanced energy-saving systems.
Mr Spencer also said hiring the very best people had been key to growth of the Spencer Group.
'We now operate a very diverse business driven by our policy of recruiting the best staff and then shaping the business around them,' he said.
'In the past few years we have recruited top-quality graduates to work as business analysts and researchers who, prior to the banking crisis, would have worked in the City of London.
'Knowledge is power and these young people equip our business with the intelligence needed to make the best strategic decisions for our business and stay ahead of our competitors. I would certainly recommend this path to other businesses'.
Mr Spencer said One Humber Quays was now 'the powerhouse driving our business forward'.
'We continue to take on new staff in Hull and are delighted by the quality of people available to us. What's more, the staff we have moved to Hull really like the office and its location in the centre of Hull'.
Mr Spencer said he had also been delighted by the support the company had received since moving its headquarters to Hull from Barrow last year. He also praised the city's business networks, such the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce.