A clear and confident message to the world

Published 20th March 2014 at 2:38pm

Last week I was at MIPIM in France, as part of a team of business and Council leaders promoting our City Region to investors from around the world.

At MIPIM we were competing for attention and inward investment against the economic powerhouses of the world – from Munich to Madrid, Brussels to Brazil – all were well represented at MIPIM and doing their best to be noticed.

The Sheffield City Region’s strategy for MIPIM 2014 was to get maximum exposure in order to attract investors without entering into an ‘arms-race’ with other areas for the biggest stand, party or dinner. Instead, we went to MIPIM with a clear and confident offer and a simple vision for investors about how the future of their businesses would be brighter in the Sheffield City Region. I believe our confident, understated approach clearly struck a chord with investors as they were keen to meet with us, and did so in their hundreds. Investors and developers were particularly keen to learn about our Enterprise Zone, which offers businesses the opportunity to join our world-class community of modern manufacturing and technology companies, as well as some of the best tax incentives to be found in Europe.

One of our most significant announcements during MIPIM was news that Government has agreed to increase the size of our Enterprise Zone by almost a half. This announcement followed extensive discussions between the LEP and Government officials to negotiate the deal, which will see Zone expansions in Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield and Markham Vale, as well a new site at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.

The Government describes Enterprise Zones as “a central plank” in their economic growth strategy and officials recognised our offer as an opportunity to work together to maximise impact at an economic hotbed outside of London. Before we brokered this deal, our Zone was already proving to one of the most successful Enterprise Zones in the UK. Since its launch, 18 new companies have located on our Enterprise Zone with 345 jobs already created on site and 300 more set to be created in the coming months.

The attractiveness of our Enterprise Zone has led to a surge in demand for ready-made units that companies can move straight into. So much so, that demand for units has been outstripping supply. This unmet demand had not gone unnoticed by national landowner and property developer Harworth Estates, who were part of the Sheffield City Region team at MIPIM. Harworth Estates’ announcement, that they will begin development next month on 100,000 square feet of industrial units on seven acres of land at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, called R-evolution, caused a stir among investors as the first development of speculative commercial property for some time in the City Region. Businesses were keen to find out more and soon realised they will need to move quickly as the units are likely to prove very popular with businesses wanting to move into the City Region immediately. With the likes of Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Sheffield University rapidly expanding their operations, it is easy to see why the development will be so attractive to investors.

As part of MIPIM, the Financial Times presented results from their FDI Magazine survey of over 468 European cities. Independent inward investment experts had been scrutinising foreign investment strategies across 468 European cities, and concluded that Sheffield City Region has the best strategy for attracting inward investment to the area.

The Sheffield City Region inward investment strategy forms part of the wider Strategic Economic Plan for the City Region, which sets out a ten year vision for our City Region, which will mean a three billion pounds boost for the local economy and 70,000 additional jobs for local people.

Our team left MIPIM 2014 with a clear understanding that if all the partners from the private, public, third and academic sectors work together, we can achieve our targets. Our inward investment team has several hundred new contacts and a number of really promising leads to follow up, which we hope to convert into investment and real jobs in the future.

This article was originally written for the Yorkshire Post and appeared in print in the Business section on Tuesday 18 March 2014.

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