Vision set out for region’s economic growth
A draft Inclusive Industrial Strategy, which sets out an ambitious vision for economic growth across Sheffield City Region, was outlined by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) yesterday (Monday 11 September).
At a meeting held at the AMP Technology Centre in Waverley, members of the LEP discussed the strategy, which has the overarching aim of creating a 21st Century Making City Region, building on the core strengths of a city region that designs, develops and distributes.
Five main priority areas for growth are identified, these being research and innovation: business and investment; place, skills and transport.
While Sheffield City Region has already achieved a great deal, including bringing 16,000 new jobs to the economy in the last three years and securing inward investment from 66 companies – including McLaren and Boeing – there is more to be done to ensure that people from all communities benefit from this economic growth.
The Inclusive Industrial Strategy will go out to consultation before a final version is formally considered by the LEP before the end of the year.
Sir Nigel Knowles, chairman of the LEP, said: “Supporting people and businesses across the Sheffield City Region to thrive has consistently been at the core of our thinking and action.
“But we want to go further, unlocking the potential to grow faster. That’s why this Inclusive Industrial Strategy has been written, in order to enable us to invest and deliver in a new way, looking at how we can best help those marginalised groups and places.
“The strategy is about crucial elements for economic growth such as job creation, building new homes and enabling businesses to thrive.
“While we are incredibly proud of what we’re doing already – indeed, we’ve seen the first private sector growth in a generation – we want to go beyond this and ensure that all our diverse communities across the city region benefit from economic growth.”
In terms of research and innovation, the strategy aims to strengthen the city region’s position as a 21st Century Making City Region. This means increasing the support to businesses for making the most of new technologies, building upon existing assets such as the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, and further positioning Sheffield City Region as a test base for trialling such technologies.
For business and investment, the strategy sets out a plan to identify companies with significant growth potential and offer them further support. There will also be an additional drive to improve the city region’s international brand and reputation.
Creating places where people want to live, work and play is also a key priority. The strategy sets out a vision for achieving this by developing plans that focus upon the city region’s urban areas, as well as the seven “growth” areas of the Dearne Valley, Doncaster Sheffield Airport corridor, Markham Vale, the A61 corridor, Sheffield city centre, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and DN7 in Doncaster. Other plans involve addressing barriers preventing the development of housing land and exploiting the region’s excellence as a visitor destination.
The priority for skills will be to close the city region’s skills deficit, in order to drive higher growth and productivity. This would be done by means such as study programmes, apprenticeships or work placements.
The final priority outlined in the report is transport. The biggest challenge identified is improving movement around the city region itself, through a fully-integrated public transport system. However, the strategy also highlights the importance of improving travel between the city region and other cities across the North, as well as with London, while also continuing to grow Doncaster Sheffield Airport to improve international connectivity.
Sir Nigel added: “We realise this strategy is ambitious, and being ambitious is absolutely essential if we are going to realise the growth across our city region that our people and businesses deserve.
“We have already achieved a great deal – such as the launch of the Growth Hub, which has already delivered support to more than 1,000 businesses; bringing companies such as McLaren and Boeing into the city region, and cementing our reputation as a place to do business, by securing the Horasis China conference which takes place in November.
“This strategy will enable us to work with partners across Sheffield City Region to do more, at the right economic scale, while enabling us to also collaborate with partners on emerging pan-Northern economic priorities, such as transport.
“We now look forward to engaging with residents, stakeholders and businesses to get their views on how we make our vision a reality.”