Young entrepreneurs leading Yarmouth’s economic drive

James Shipp

James Shipp - Credit: Archant

Depressingly high unemployment has long been an unwelcome feature of Yarmouth's economy and one that has challenged generations of politicians on the doorstep at election time.

But now, despite the ongoing battle to maintain a vibrant town centre - the high street lynchpin of Marks and Spencer announced its move out of town earlier this week - the signs are a lot brighter on the seafront and in the borough's industrial areas.

Investment is picking up everywhere, from the traditional seaside sector to the burgeoning offshore wind industry, and often at the spearhead of the revival are business people in their 30s and 40s.

James Shipp has just been made a partner of BDO accountants and business advisers which is based at very the heart of the borough's regeneration on Gorleston's Beacon Park. In the space of a few years, the site has developed from weed-strewn fields to a vibrant hub of international companies.

Mr Shipp, who was born in Yarmouth and studied at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, believes there is a clear trend of younger business people starting and building successful businesses in the Yarmouth area and playing a big part in boosting the regional economy.

He said: 'I've taken on this role at a very exciting time, with distinct signs of growth in the energy and engineering sectors and a positive mood among clients in the hospitality business. This is particularly apparent among those who have invested in their businesses during the economic downturn. They are the ones who seem to be reaping the benefits now that the national and regional economy has turned the corner.' Mr Shipp is a co-founder of the Yarmouth Lunch Club networking event, which meets every two months and is consistently a sell-out. 'It's very informal and a large proportion of those who attend are business people in their 30s,' he said.

'It's a great reflection of the borough's economy – a mixture of dynamic younger people working their way up the corporate ladder with established companies and those who have set up their own businesses.

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'It is extremely encouraging to see such confidence in the town's economic future, and to witness ambitious younger people playing such a crucial part.'

He said the general economic indicators for Yarmouth were fuelling this confidence. These included the establishment of the enterprise zones, the injection of an additional £3m of government money into Beacon Park and the recent news that the port will serve as the base for the new Dudgeon offshore wind farm.

Mr Shipp joined a local firm of accountants in Norwich at the age of 18, moving to PKF in Yarmouth in 2010 as a manager. PKF merged with BDO last year.

He progressed to senior manager and then director before his recent appointment as partner in charge of BDO's Yarmouth office. Married with two children, Mr Shipp is a former English schools 200m sprint champion, who went on to represent his country against Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

He intends to be fast out of the blocks in his new role. As well as encouraging and supporting local businesses through traditional accountancy and tax services, he is keen to see companies tap into the full range of services that BDO offers, including human resource and IT consultancy, payroll and financial outsourcing and supporting local businesses trading internationally.