Harrogate is a thriving town in the southern part of North Yorkshire, with a population of approximately 70,000. Harrogate is the centre of the exhibition and conference trade in the area and has many guest houses, hotels and restaurants catering for the regular influx of visitors. The town also acts, to some extent, as a dormitory town for commuters working in the cities of Leeds and Bradford.
Because of these factors, on top of a comparatively low cost of living, there are robust employment opportunities in the area. Prior to the discovery of its naturally iron and sulphur rich water, Harrogate was a minor village. The first mineral spring in Harrogate was discovered by William Slingsby in 1571, who found that water from the Tewitt Well possessed similar properties to that from the springs of the Belgian town of Spa. Following this Harrogate developed considerable fame as a spa town. Agriculture provided the main employment in the area historically, in particular the woolen industry.
But the retail sector has increased over the past few years. A lot of employment in this sector has resulted from the change in retail use at St James Business Park, with a move from bulky goods retail to high street retailers such as Next, Matallan and BHS Home.
Other notable growth is evident in financial Intermediation, education and health, which now account for significant recruitment in the area. In addition to the larger outside enterprises, there are also many small, local firms doing good business in the Harrogate area.