Improving economic conditions are fuelling growth in South Yorkshire - but business chiefs say there is ‘still a lot of hard work to go’.
Figures from the latest Quarterly Economic Survey by the British Chambers of Commerce show a rise in the numbers of firms taking on staff and increasing sales.
Sheffield City Region business leaders say firms have experienced ‘positive momentum’.
A combination of firms having less debt to pay off, some businesses having built up spare cash, and banks offering credit for ‘good applications’, are helping the economy, said Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, which contributed to the report.
According to the survey, covering the July to September quarter of 2013:
■ 85 per cent of firms surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber have been recruiting full-time staff.
■ 34 per cent of companies reported increased domestic sales compared with 17 per cent in the April to June period.
■ 36 per cent of businesses had increased exports, up from 23 per cent.
One firm undergoing expansion is dental supply company S4S, which has taken on an apprentice and two other new staff, and is moving premises within Woodseats.
Neil Bullement, commercial director for S4S, which now has 13 staff, said: “We have been experiencing growth since the start of the year rather than in the last three months.
“Most of our growth has come from a new product called Smilelign, a clear brace for adult orthodontics.
“We have not been that badly affected by the recession - one of the reasons is that some of the products we make relate to stress, such as one for controlling clenching and grinding of teeth.”
Mr Wright continued: “We are seeing consistently better figures but we have a lot of hard work to go.
“We need to see more investment in equipment and research and development to help in the long term.
“There is a case to say some businesses should be prepared to take more risks.”
Dan Fell, spokesman for Sheffield City Region, said: “Despite barriers such as business rates and skills shortages, the hard efforts of businesses in the city region have begun to bear fruit.”
Several years of doom and gloom about firms closing their doors and job losses have been replaced in The Star with more positive stories. Numerous expansion plans have been revealed - many as a result of large bank loans.
In recent weeks, stories have included Sheffield outdoor clothing and equipment firm Go Outdoors securing a £33m loan from Barclays bank to fund a significant store expansion programme.
Meanwhile ITM Power, based in the Lower Don Valley, has won a £1m grant from the Welsh government to develop hydrogen refuelling stations for vehicles.
IT firm Wan Disco, based in the Electric Works, Sheaf Street, has raised £19m in a share issue to fund expansion plans.
And S4S Dental Laboratory is moving to new premises in Woodseats twice the size of its old base after securing a six-figure loan. The company plans new jobs.