THE NEW chairman of Leeds-based regional development agency Yorkshire Forward will be Terry Hodgkinson.
The surprise appointment of the 54-year-old managing director of Magna Holdings was announced today by Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt.
Richard Gregory, the current deputy chairman, was thought to be the favourite, and the contest for the top job was expected to be between him and John Napier, chairman of Yorkshire Water's owner Kelda.
However, it is Mr Hodgkinson who will replace Sir Graham Hall when his term of office ends in December 2003.
The appointed is for an initial term of three years and he will be paid 47,800 for what is a two days a week post.
Mr Hodgkinson lives in West Yorkshire and is also a director of Lemmeleg Building and Contracting.
He is also the current chairman of first, the economic development agency for the Wakefield District, and a board member of the Wakefield District Partnership.
He is also a committee member for the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Yorkshire and Humber Region and a Yorkshire and Humber Construction Forum Board member.
As an employer, he has worked with Yorkshire Forward on urban renaissance and other construction industry issues.
Mr Hodgkinson said today: "It is a great honour to be appointed as chairman of Yorkshire Forward to take up the reins from Sir Graham Hall when his appointment ends in December.
"Yorkshire Forward has achieved a lot under Graham's leadership. I am looking forward to working with the rest of the board, its executive team and staff, to lead the next phase of the agency's development.
"Working closely with the wide range of stakeholders across the region and beyond, I relish the challenge and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead."
Felicity Everiss, regional director of the Government Office Yorkshire and the Humber, welcomed the appointment.
She said: "I look forward to working with Terry whose private sector background and partnership work with the public sector will enable him to build on the good work of his predecessor.
"I would also like to take this early opportunity to thank Sir Graham for his contribution to the region and to wish him well in the future."
Sir Graham said he was confident that his successor would lead Yorkshire Forward to continued success in the next phase of its development "so that the Regional Economic Strategy delivers tangible benefits to the businesses and people of Yorkshire and the Humber."