In this series we ask key figures in the region and from our core sectors to share the insight their position affords them.
This time, we catch up with Greg Wright, Deputy Business Editor at the Yorkshire Post who shares his thoughts on the mood of our region’s businesses, what leaders need from government and the role media has to play in the COVID-19 recovery process.
From your unique perspective with an overview of the region’s businesses, how would you gauge the mood of our SME sector since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Yorkshire firms are incredibly resilient and innovative. Many of them have completely changed their business plans to produce goods/services that will help healthcare professionals deal with the pandemic. But they are understandably under great pressure and will struggle to cope with a prolonged lockdown. Apart from swift and appropriate financial support, they want to know what the exit strategy might look like.
What would you say business leaders need most from Government now?
The Government can ensure firms in trouble receive speedy access to the cash they need to survive, but they need a grown up conversation about what happens next. The lack of a clear strategy for coming out of the pandemic is incredibly damaging. We are in uncharted territory, but the Government should be asking more people for their views about how we might emerge from this crisis. Input from business is crucial.
How have you been choosing what stories to focus on in recent weeks?
The pandemic has been front of mind, but firms are still innovating and finding new markets. It has provided a great opportunity for firms in the food sector and also for companies who can adapt to provide PPE. We’re facing the biggest slump in decades. The lockdown will have to be eased with extreme care. We choose to focus on stories that inform, entertain and educate our readers.
And what would you hope the role of the regional business media will be as we start the long process of recovery?
We can act as a sounding board for the region. It’s important to stress that there will be happier days ahead, the economy will start to grow and corporate life will return to something approaching normality. We can speak for firms who are outside the Westminster bubble to ensure their voices are not ignored.
How are you dealing with lockdown personally, any tips you’d like to share?
The most important thing is exercise – we’re lucky to live in Ilkley so it’s easy to find green spaces. It’s important to take a screen break and not work much longer hours than normal. The lack of a commute means you can manage your time more efficiently. You have to give yourself something to look forward to each day – like a film in the evening or the chance to peruse a favourite book.
Find out the latest information to help guide you through the advice and support schemes available in response to COVID-19 on our hub.