Helping to drive economic ambitions

Published 25th January 2016 at 2:03pm

Sir Nigel Knowles, Global Co-Chairman of DLA Piper and Chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

I was delighted and honoured to be appointed to the role of Chair of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) from January this year.

I have been watching the Sheffield City Region position itself at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse over the last few years – winning deal after deal with government and working in partnership to deliver jobs and growth in the local economy.

So when this opportunity to play a leading part in the future of Sheffield City Region came up, I realised that this was a chance to really make a difference to an area which has played a huge part in my life.

I studied at Sheffield University, and am very proud to have received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from the University and to be a Visiting Professor in its School of Law. I began my career in law in a legal practice in the region, and eventually grew that firm to the global business it is today.

I hope that my skills and experience transforming a Yorkshire law business into a global company with a £2.5 billion turnover can be put to good use, and that I can help to drive the LEP’s economic ambitions.

I believe that the LEP has a clear vision, a strategy for achieving it, and a team of people truly committed to achieving its goals. We have an economy of £30 billion, and we have 52,000 businesses here. That includes almost 700 foreign-owned companies bringing much-needed inward investment into the region.

As you read this article I will have returned from the World Economic Forum at Davos, where topics such as the future of financial services, regions in transformation, and global security were discussed. While these may seem highly theoretical, I believe they and other subjects that will come up for debate will be important for the regions of the UK. And I believe that hearing about our region was of interest for those whom I met.

Having seen the benefits for my own firm, DLA Piper, growing from its UK regional origins to the global business it is today, and how global thinking has helped its growth, I am convinced that we as a region must also think large, and think more broadly about our place in the world.

I was impressed by the far-sightedness of the Sheffield City Region LEP in appointing a chairman who is resident outside the city region, who can sell, market and speak positively about the City Region in London and around the world. This is what I intend to do and, to complement this, I have appointed a vice-chair who is based in Sheffield City Region.   Nigel Brewster has been a LEP board member since the partnership was set up in 2010, and has had responsibility for the skills work stream. This has included overseeing a number of major deals with government which will fundamentally change the skills system and ensure that businesses are placed at its heart.

Meanwhile I am convinced that the proposed devolution deal has the potential to accelerate local business growth and create more and higher paid jobs in the area. By transferring powers and funding from Government, this deal will give local leaders, who better understand what is needed to grow our economy, the powers needed to maximise local business growth.

I also look forward to furthering relations with colleagues at Whitehall, and at the LEPs in Leeds, Manchester and across the North to build a better connected Northern Powerhouse which can take on the world. And I look forward to working closely with local businesses to create a more prosperous area – an area that can more than punch its weight in the Northern Powerhouse.

We have the people, the skills and the vision to drive forward a more prosperous future. I look forward to us all playing our part whether we are in the private or public sectors.

The Davos World Economic Forum 20-23 January 2016

  • More than 2,500 people – global business leaders, heads of state, international political leaders, selected intellectuals, and journalists – met to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world at the annual conference of the World Economic Forum.Co-chairs of the 2016 programme included the CEOs of General Motors, the Microsoft Corporation, Hitachi, and Credit Suisse. Attendance is by invitation only.
  • DLA Piper is one of the world’s largest global business law firms, with a turnover in excess of $2.5bn, and 4,200 lawyers in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

 

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