This is my home towns history, similar in a lot of ways to Winnipeg.
Similar population, you had the fur trade, we had wool, but Leeds diversified and changed with the times. Leeds is now the UK’s largest centre for business, legal, and financial services outside London,and according to the most recent Office for National Statistics estimates, Leeds is the fastest growing city in the UK.
This could be Winnipeg. Please read on and see if you can pick similarities.
Leeds developed as a market town in the Middle Ages as part of the local agricultural economy. Prior to the Industrial Revolution it had become a co-ordination centre for the making of woollen cloth; with white broadcloth being traded at the Leeds White Cloth Hall.
Leeds was handling one sixth of England’s export trade in 1770. Growth, initially in textiles, was accelerated by the building of the Aire and Calder Navigation in 1699 and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816.
The railway network constructed around Leeds, starting with the Leeds and Selby Railway in 1834, provided improved communications with national markets and, significantly for its development, an east-west connection with Manchester and the ports of Liverpool and Hull giving improved access to international markets.
Alongside technological advances and industrial expansion, Leeds retained an interest in trading in agricultural commodities, with the Corn Exchange opening in 1864.
In the early years the most significant of the factories were woollen finishing and flax mills; diversifying by 1914 to printing, engineering, chemicals and clothing manufacture.
Decline in manufacturing during the 1930s was temporarily reversed by a switch to producing military uniforms and munitions during World War II. However, by the 1970s the clothing industry was in irreversible decline, facing cheap foreign competition.
The contemporary economy of Leeds has been shaped by Leeds City Council having the vision of building a ’24 hour European city’ and a ‘capital of the north’. It has developed from the decay of the post-industrial era to become a telephone banking centre, connected to the electronic infrastructure of the modern global economy There has been growth in the corporate and legal sectors and increased local affluence has led to an expanding retail sector, including the luxury goods market.
The internationally acclaimed University of Leeds, together with Leeds Metropolitan University and Leeds Trinity University College has made the city a major centre of higher education. The student population has stimulated growth of the nightlife in the city and there are ample facilities for sporting and cultural activities, including classical and popular music festivals, and a varied collection of museums.
Leeds has a diverse economy with employment in the service sector now far exceeding that in the traditional manufacturing industries. In 2002, 401,000 employees were registered in the Leeds district. Of these 24.7% were in public administration, education and health, 23.9% were in banking finance and insurance and 21.4% were in distribution, hotels and restaurants.
It is in the banking, finance and insurance sectors that Leeds differs most from the financial structure of the region and the nation. The city is the location of one of the largest financial centres in England outside London.
Tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media have contributed to a high rate of economic growth. In 2006 GVA for city was recorded at $32 billion, with the entire Leeds City Region generating an economy of $92 billion.
The extensive retail area of Leeds is identified as the principal regional shopping centre for the whole of the Yorkshire and the Humber region and approximately 3.2 million people live within its catchment area.
There are a number of indoor shopping centres in the middle of the city, including the Merrion Centre, Leeds Shopping Plaza, St John’s Centre, Headrow Centre, the Victoria Quarter, The Light and the Corn Exchange.
In total there are approximately 1,000 retail stores, with a combined floorspace of 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2).
Of the 40,000 people who work in retailing in Leeds 75% work in places which are not located in the city centre. There are additional shopping centres located in the many villages that became part of the county borough and in the towns that were incorporated in the City of Leeds in 1974.
Office developments, also traditionally located in the inner area, have expanded south of the River Aire and total 11,000,000 square feet (1,000,000 m2) of space.
In the period from 1999 to 2008 $5bn of property development was undertaken in central Leeds; of which $1.4bn has been offices, $530m retail, $775m leisure and $1.6bn housing.
Manufacturing and distribution uses accounts for $50m of new property development in the period. There are 130,100 jobs in the city centre, accounting for 31% of all jobs in the wider district. In 2007, 47,500 jobs were in finance and business, 42,300 in public services, and 19,500 in retail and distribution. 43% of finance sector jobs in the district are contained in Leeds city centre and 44% of those employed in the city centre live more than nine kilometres away.
It’s your turn Winnipeg, dare to dream or let Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and the rest keep calling you the shit pot of Canada.