Chairman’s Blog: Business growth number one priority

Published 22nd June 2012 at 8:00am

Last week saw the Chambers launch their ‘Manifesto for Growth’, a 15-page document which calls on City Region leaders to provide businesses with the right conditions for growth. I fully endorse this document and I welcome the Chambers’ support on these issues.

(left to right) Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber President Chris MacCormac, Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn, Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Chairman James Newman, and Doncaster Chamber Deputy Chief Executive Dan Fell with copies of the ‘Manifesto for Growth’

Business growth is our number one focus – we are concentrating our energy on creating conditions for business growth that creates sustainable jobs.An area of vast potential growth is the low carbon sector. We’re putting a lot of effort into this and only last week supported an event which brought over seventy businesses in the area together to collaborate and create greener and more energy efficient products and services.

The potential scale of low carbon sector growth cannot be understated. The LEP Board recently received a presentation from 2Co Energy which is bidding for a project which would bring thousands of jobs and turn our City Region into a European centre for cleaner energy production.

The 2Co Energy project is competing against other UK projects to win £1 billion Government funding to bring carbon capture and storage to the Don Valley at Hadfield.  Although the project will be sited within the Sheffield City Region, it has the potential to enable many other carbon capture projects across Yorkshire and Humber. That is why we are collaborating with LEPs in Leeds, York, North Yorkshire and East Riding and the Humber to give the 2Co Energy bid our combined backing.

Aerial view of the Don Valley Power Project site

Don Valley Power Project site

A key condition from the Chambers Manifesto for Growth is to provide our workforce with the skills businesses need to achieve growth. We have now finished collecting over 900 responses from businesses across the City Region and these are being analysed by our market research partner, ekosgen. I look forward to announcing the research results soon and the work that will follow will ensure that providers offer training that is well suited to the needs to growing businesses.

Last week, we submitted our Regional Growth Fund bid to Government and we are awaiting feedback. Our programme bid has been designed to help both smaller companies and larger companies with smaller projects. The bid asks for a significant investment in a number of high quality business proposals in the City Region, which if approved will stimulate millions of pounds of private sector investment and create thousands of new sustainable, private sector jobs.

As I write this blog, our Inward Investment Director, Ellen Cutler, is tracking down business investors in the healthcare technologies markets across the Atlantic. Together with colleagues from the Leeds LEP, she has been attending conferences in Chicago and across the USA to show international businesses the investment opportunities that our City Region has to offer. As you will know, our City Region has a very strong orthopaedic healthcare sector and this has been the focus of much of Ellen’s work.

Good news stories about businesses that are growing are regularly coming out of our City Region, and an announcement that one of our biggest names is set to expand was welcomed this week. On Thursday, Rolls-Royce held a ‘Ground Breaking’ Ceremony to mark the start of work building their Advanced Blade Casting Facility. This new facility, which will manufacture advanced single crystal turbine blade castings, will bring over 150 new jobs to the City Region when fully operational.

I’m looking forward to the LEP Board meeting on Thursday next week, where we will assess several new Growing Places Fund bids which will see allocation of up to £3.8m of funding. Our last Growing Places Fund Board discussions saw us allocate funding to Doncaster-Sheffield Airport Link road, Chesterfield Waterside and the Sheffield to Rotherham Bus Rapid Transport scheme. These projects are set to unlock millions of pounds economic growth and create employment in the City Region.

I hope you have enjoyed this latest update and will post here again before too long.

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