In 2013 we will build on the successes of 2012
As I look back over 2012, the hard work of the LEP is really starting to pay off as we play an increasingly central role in the City Region’s economic agenda.
All of our successes have been made possible by the collaborative approach taken by businesses and the eight local authorities across the Sheffield City Region with a clear objective – to lead economic growth and create sustainable employment by focusing on key high value sectors.
The City Region celebrated a number of successes this year and I have chosen to highlight three of our recent significant achievements: in March, we finalised an unbeatable package of benefits for our Enterprise Zone to attract modern manufacturing and technology investments; in July, we built a city deal for skills which creates an employer-led approach to delivering the skills that our economy really needs; and in October we created a fund to boost businesses with robust plans for growth.
Following rigorous negotiations with Treasury, we finalised details of our 145-hectare Enterprise Zone in spring this year. Our vision is to create the UK’s number one location for modern manufacturing and technology investors. We have one of only seven zones in England which can offer the top level of tax incentives and it has been officially recognised by the Financial Times as the UK’s number one ‘Global Free Zones of the Future’. Our recently established and highly specialised inward investment team is working with potential investors from around the world to build a ‘pipeline’ of potential investors to join our growing hub which is already home to household names including Rolls-Royce, Firth Rixson and Boeing.
Hot-on-the-heels of our Enterprise Zone news, this summer we announced that our ‘City Deal’ will mean that responsibility for how money is spent on skills in the City Region will now be made by local businesses and partners. The skills element of our deal will create 4,000 new apprenticeships across the City Region and 2,000 adults trained in new skills. This deal is giving local businesses unprecedented controls over the way in which our skills system works, so that we can make sure we have a highly skilled workforce which corresponds with our specific business needs.
Following our Enterprise Zone and City Deal announcements, in Autumn we announced a £25m fund to help dozens of local businesses to achieve their growth ambitions. Our Regional Growth Fund programme is one of the largest amounts of money handed down by Government and will unlock £100m of direct business investment, leading to sustainable, private sector growth in the City Region and approximately 1,500 new private sector jobs. Currently 27 companies have put forward plans for growth as part of our programme and we are looking forward to welcoming further businesses with growth plans onto our programme.
In 2013, we expect the Government’s ‘localism’ agenda to continue to take priority, and our LEP will continue its strategy of providing leadership and coordination of the City Region’s growth ambitions. The LEP will welcome any further devolution of powers and funding away from Whitehall, which is vital to rebalancing the UK’s economy.
The LEP looks forward to sharing more good news over the coming year, including establishing our City Region Investment Fund to enable major investment to be better coordinated, welcoming digital entrepreneurs onto the dotforge Accelerator programme, supporting more growing businesses with RGF funding, equipping young people and adults with skills they need for employment as well as welcoming some major investors into our Enterprise Zone…