Real progress for key LEP priorities

Published 21st September 2012 at 4:27pm

Since I last blogged, many of our key projects have made some real progress.

Our Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programme bid has taken a significant step forward – shortlisted by the Government ministerial panel, which looked at over 414 bids this summer.

I am confident that our RGF bid will be successful this Autumn, when Government makes its final decision on the 278 remaining bids. A green-light for our £38.6m programme bid would be a real boost for our economy – unlocking millions more in investment and creating hundreds of new jobs.

Also in the last few weeks, Financial Times industry analysts ranked our LEP at number 5 in the UK, ahead of most other ‘core city’ LEPs. This relatively high rank reflects the strength of collaboration between the private and public sector in our City Region.

It is no secret that private-public sector collaboration is central to achieving our ambitions for economic growth – it has been at the heart of all our successes so far. I reflected on this point on Tuesday this week, when I appeared before a Select Committee at Parliament, which was reporting on the progress of LEPs.

I spoke to the Committee about our most notable achievements, including our Enterprise Zone and our City Deal. It is clear that the pace and strength of progress that our LEP is making is not going unnoticed. As a result of our achievements, our LEP is being widely observed as ‘one to watch’ by Government officers, politicians, journalists and industry experts alike.

Outside of the LEP, great progress has also been made by many of our partners whose projects positively impact on our goals for economic growth. Last week, one of our Enterprise Zone landowner partners, Harworth Estates, unveiled the first of its new homes, which are situated near to the Enterprise Zone site at Waverley.

Waverley houses

I understand that there has already been a great amount of interest in these new homes. These houses will help to satisfy the growing demand for high quality homes, as our Enterprise Zone brings skilled engineering and technology jobs to the City Region. Just across the road from the new housing site, Rolls-Royce continues construction of its new Advanced Blade Casting Facility.

Rolls-Royce Advanced Blade Casting Facility

We also recently saw the groundbreaking ceremony for the new £8.5 million UTC Sheffield building – a brand new high-tech college for students aged 14 to 19. When it opens in a year’s time, this will be one of the first University Technical Colleges in the country. Young people will benefit from its bringing together of employers, universities, colleges and schools to offer specialist courses in advanced engineering and manufacturing and in the creative and digital industries.

UTC Groundbreaking on Friday 7 September 2012

This week is another busy week for the City Region, with some important dates on the calendar. On Tuesday and Wednesday, a two-day conference and exhibition was launched in Sheffield for the growing low carbon and renewable energy marketplace. At ‘Rexpo’ attendees were able to share ideas, network, and do business with companies working in Renewable Energy and the Green Deal.

On Tuesday, I travelled to Downing Street for the official signing of our ‘City Deal’. This was a landmark occasion for the LEP and the entire City Region. In short, it means that more decisions on how money is spent on skills and transport in our City Region will be made by local businesses and partners who understand what is really needed locally.

Signing the City Deal at Downing Street

And, of course, until Saturday this week the hugely popular MADE festival means that thousands entrepreneurs are in the Sheffield City Region, creating a hugely positive and innovative environment – not to be missed.

Yesterday, I was very pleased to announce a new programme to support startup businesses across the Sheffield City Region as part of the MADE Festival. At our media launch event in Sheffield city centre, I joined internet entrepreneur and LEP Board Member Lee Strafford along with successful startup Dom to unveil the ‘dotforge accelerator’ programme. This exciting new programme gives startup businesses intensive mentoring and coaching from experienced entrepreneurs, as well as investing £25,000 of private sector capital in each new venture.

With Lee Strafford, LEP Board Member, co-founder of Project Sheffield and Dom Lewis, Tray, at the launch of the dotforge accelerator programme

Just over two weeks ago we sent out the first edition of our new LEP eNewsletter. With contributions from Executive Team members, Sector Groups and Private Sector Board Members, the newsletter gives you the chance to get some different perspectives on the LEP’s progress. If you haven’t already had the chance to do so, I’d really recommend reading this. You can sign up for our newsletter on this website or click here to download the latest edition.

I look forward to blogging again as I’m sure there will, as always, be much to update you on…

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