‘Location, location, location’
It might be an overused cliché, but it is still the number one rule for property investors the world over: there are three things that matter in property – location, location, location.
Next month, we will proudly present our location, the Sheffield City Region, to an audience of property investors and decision makers at MIPIM, the world’s largest annual property event which takes place in Cannes, France.
The LEP’s team of inward investment experts are telling us that there’s more confidence today in the Sheffield City Region’s property market than at any time over the past few years, so our plan to have a bigger presence at this year’s event make perfect sense.
The increased interest in commercial property may well be partly down to a more confident housing market having a knock-on effect on the business sector. It may also be being boosted by the effect of more credit being made available, as the Governor of the Bank of England says he won’t be raising interest rates in the near future.
However, whilst these things are good news for the market in general – they could apply anywhere in the UK. And our own economic analysis shows that an upturn for the UK economy doesn’t necessarily lead to economic improvements in the Sheffield City Region. In fact, history shows the exact opposite can be true, the last spell of sustained economic growth in the UK contrasted with a downturn in business growth in our area.
So what will be different this time around? What makes our offer more appealing than the hundreds of competing offers that will be presented at MIPIM? Why would an investor choose our location?
Firstly, we’re showing investors that the Sheffield City Region is the location with a vision for tomorrow – a vision for business growth, which they will be inspired to join. The LEP’s business-led Growth Plan sets out our intention to give businesses the skills, funding and support to grow quickly and succeed. This plan includes an ultramodern transport system to connect urban centres and key development areas, and crucially includes a high speed train station – which will reduce travel time to London to little over an hour.
Secondly, we’ve got more to attract businesses in terms of locations to choose from than ever before. By attending MIPIM as a single Sheffield City Region (rather than individual towns and cities), we can offer investors a more comprehensive range of premises and land to choose from. This offer has been massively enhanced over the last few years, through the developments at our Enterprise Zone and the Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
At our Enterprise Zone sites, we’re investing millions of pounds to prepare land, roads and property units to make it easy for modern manufacturing and technology investors to move into. In Doncaster, we’re developing a major inland logistics port at junction 3 of the M18, with train, rail, road and air links to make it easier than ever before for businesses to export from Sheffield City Region to the rest of the world. These recent investments will also allow investors to more fully exploit the City Region’s geographical location at the heart of the UK.
Thirdly, in the past few years and despite the recession, some world-class businesses in the Sheffield City Region have been seriously stepping up their operations. Businesses like Rolls-Royce are growing their expertise here and helping to create a global centre for collaboration around advanced manufacturing and technology.
The University of Sheffield will be joining us at MIPIM 2014. Investors will be able to hear about how industry-university collaborations in our City Region are re-shaping the global marketplace. Examples like Siemens’s advanced turbine technology demanded by today’s wind farms, and Boeing’s research to drastically reduce the braking time of their Dreamliner aircraft, are already catching the attention of investors around the world.
As business and public sector leaders from the Sheffield City Region arrive in Cannes on March 10, we will be rehearsing a pitch in our heads with confidence that our offer cannot be matched. If we get asked to tell investors for three reason why they should invest with us, we really could proudly reply “location, location, location”.
This article was originally written for the Yorkshire Post and appeared in print in the Business section on Tuesday 18 February 2014.