Making money is the Wright focus

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A Sheffield business leader has called for a renewed focus on ‘wealth creation’ after the Local Enterprise Partnership spent months writing a bid for £250m of Government cash.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber, said he applauded the LEP’s hard work, but it was important to develop a ‘commercially-driven’ plan to transform the region’s economy.

A proposal to boost skills, housing, transport and jobs in Sheffield City Region was sent to Government for approval this week. The aim is to create 70,000 jobs in the next decade. It comes after consultants predicted the region was on course to create only 27,000.

Mr Wright said millions of pounds of European funding already spent had failed to deliver sufficient return, proving the need to be more business savvy.

He added: “We have to build more commercial expertise into developing and running the activities and what the private sector bring. There is a big difference between managing a process and making money.

“We have to recognise this or we will continue to get an insufficient return on the money we spend.

“Nobody can argue that the millions of pounds of Objective 1 and ERDF have really delivered the return we wanted.

“This is our real challenge going forward and it will take a different type of leadership by everybody to meet that challenge.”

The LEP is a partnership of business and local authority leaders. It is also bidding for more powers.

Barnsley Council chief executive Diana Terris said: “We are very confident the Government will recognise this as an opportunity to realise the economic potential of the Sheffield City Region.”

All 39 LEPs are competing for a share of an initial £2bn pot.