EVERYONE has talked about it. Theorised about it. Suspected it. But now it is confirmed. Most businesses believe they would be better off in York and North Yorkshire than London and the South East.

A new survey, the findings of which were disclosed today, proves that our region beats the south as a business location hands down.

In interviews with 36 top decision makers at businesses spread across North Yorkshire and the South of England, eight out of ten believed they would be better off in York and North Yorkshire in terms of quality of life and cost of living.

The independent research, covering six key sectors - bioscience, creative and cultural, food and drink, IT and digital, logistics and distribution, plus the public sector - was carried out on behalf of york-england.com, the sub-regional inward investment board. It found that:

  • Quality of life, cost of living and running costs were all seen to be significantly better for businesses in York and North Yorkshire compared to London and the South East
  • Almost twice as many businesses believe they would be better off located in York and North Yorkshire than those who preferred London and the South East
  • Seven out of ten businesses believed location impacts on profitability and that running costs are lower in the North versus the South

The favourable perceptions of the region as a place to do business has put a powerful new marketing weapon in the armoury of york-england. com, which over the last three years has been directly responsible for attracting 61 companies to York and North Yorkshire.

One in three respondents had already relocated to the area from other parts of the UK and every one of them said they would never consider relocating to the South.

This compared to 80 per cent of London and South East respondents who recognised the advantages of moving north, although 17 per cent of them said they would potentially consider breaking ties and moving here.

Southern bosses cited twice as many "downsides" to their location than those in York and North Yorkshire, including the high cost of living, competition for staff, quality of life, over-population and commuting.

From the North, however, the most cited negatives were the distance from international airports, a lack of industry and a shortage of business parks.

And while southern-based public sector organisations were best informed about York and North Yorkshire, 44 per cent of all southern respondents had no idea of what our region had to offer businesses - implying that more marketing work had yet to be done by york-england. com.

The survey comes in the wake of research carried out by Sheffield University last year, which showed that Yorkshire's competitiveness had improved by 4.2 per cent in the last year compared with a decline of 0.7 per cent in London and the South East.

Denise Stuart, chief executive of yorkengland. com said: "The tide is turning towards the North as a business location."

"People are realising they don't have to be based in the South to be successful, but it is very competitive, with other Northern cities marketing themselves aggressively."

She added: "We certainly have our work cut out for us, but 2007 looks like it is going to be another exciting year for York and North Yorkshire.

"Developments in York, with Vangarde and the Terry's sites, Selby and Sherburn, Scarborough Business Park and Colburn Business Park, provide significant opportunities to attract lots of new dynamic companies moving to the area."

Paul Taylor, project director of Science City York, said: "The survey reinforces the message that York and North Yorkshire is the right place to establish and grow technology-based businesses.

Working closely with the york-england.com team, we will ensure this message reaches more decision makers in the rest of the UK, especially the South."