ECONOMIC chiefs from York were today heading to France to meet property tycoons, hoping to attract millions of pounds of vital investment to the city.

Officials from City of York Council are joining a delegation from the Leeds City Region at a huge international conference, to sell the city to the world and try to kickstart some of York’s stalled developments, such as York Central, Castle Piccadilly and Nestle South.

The international MIPIM 2013 conference in Cannes runs from tomorrow until Friday and attracts 4,300 investors and 19,000 delegates from 83 countries. This will be the first time York has been represented.

The council will be represented by Katie Stewart, head of economic development, and Darren Richardson, director of city and environmental services, who hope to promote York as a modern rather than solely historic city.

The huge event will showcase the key York Central ‘teardrop’ site near York Station to economic powerhouses. The search for a developer was halted in 2009, and while an £80 million funding gap has been reduced, £35 million is needed to move the project forward. Ms Stewart and Mr Richardson will also will also promote York’s profile as a commerce, science and technology centre.

Mr Richardson said: “The investors at MIPIM are the people with money who want to invest in the areas where we want York to grow – business, housing and retail.

“We want to pitch York as a good place to invest and invite investors here to see what we have to offer. York Central is the flagship and we’re seeking people interested in plugging the final gap. We’re working on opportunities within the UK, but at MIPIM we will see if the international market can progress York Central. Just a little upfront investment is needed to bankroll this and other sites.”

York is spending £25,000 on the trip, including a £20,000 MIPIM admission fee, but officials hope to recoup much more in investment. The money has come from the city council’s Economic Infrastructure Fund.

Mr Richardson said the HS2 project would give York Central’s rail links an “international flavour”, increasing its appeal. Ms Stewart said the site was sometimes considered “difficult” in UK circles but said: “At MIPIM, we can pitch York Central’s pure opportunity and what it will achieve to an international market.

“It’s a huge, valuable audience. We’ll have direct conversations with chief executives, managing directors and investment directors, who you’d otherwise have to spend a lot of time and money getting through the door to see. Compared with some other MIPIM exhibitions, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, we’re spending pennies to be there.

“We want to shift the perception of York so it’s not just seen as a historic city – which can be a red flag to businesses - but also a modern, forward-facing city.”

The council has already contacted many investors and delegates through MIPIM’s database. Mr Richardson said: “We hope to get investment in sites to help create jobs and homes, bring businesses to York and get the city’s message and offer across to a worldwide audience. MIPIM will only be the start of a year of work as we follow up opportunities.”

The MIPIM property fair is known in full as Le Marche International des Professionels de L’immobilier.