THE Star Business Survey 2012 is out and Sheffield City Region (LEP) chairman James Newman reveals how hard work to counter a tough 12-months will maximise future economic potential.
VIDEO: Read his full comments below and click the play button to watch Mr Newman in conversation with The Star’s Business Editor Bob Rae.
The Star Business Survey 2012, in association wuith Lambert Smith Hampton, is a 44-page supplement in which business leaders take a close look at the shape of the region’s industry, manufacturing, innovations and training.
It was a FREE pull-out in The Star on Wednesday, January 18, 2012.
THE STAR BUSINESS SURVEY 2012 ON-LINE: You can now read The Star Business Survey 2012 on line - CLICK HERE
Mr Newman tells how Sheffield City Region is creating opportunities. Here’s his article in full:
Undoubtedly, the last 12 months have been tough for both the national and local economies,
At a national level there has been only sluggish growth, an increase in unemployment – particularly amongst younger people – and a reduction in both business and consumer confidence.
These trends have also been felt within the Sheffield City Region where, for example, over 6,500 more people are claiming job seeker’s allowance compared with the same time last year. Young people, including many graduates from our excellent Universities and Colleges, have been badly affected and are finding it increasingly difficult to find sustained and meaningful employment.
The future growth of the City Region will be determined by the way in which we create and shape opportunities now. Clearly, our local economy will be influenced by both national and international factors such as global commodity prices, consumer confidence and the crisis in the euro area.
However, independent economic forecasts make clear that a coordinated local response to local issues, additional private sector funding for investment and a more innovative use of specialist funding schemes are some of the measures that could make a lasting difference to our economy.
We are not fighting for our economic survival as the City Region is in a far stronger position, but we are working hard to maximise the City Region’s economic potential in the future. Just over a year ago, our proposal for a Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was one of the first to be approved by the Government.
Our vision was for the Sheffield City Region to make a greater contribution to the UK economy by having a local economy less dependent on the public sector, providing conditions for businesses to grow and by giving the nation its prime centre for advanced manufacturing and materials and a focus on other key sectors where we are already ahead of the game. We want the Sheffield City Region to remain a great place to live, work, invest, and visit. From the start, we were determined that our LEP would be one of the pioneers and one of the best run and feedback from many observers suggests that this is the case.
During this first year, we have established a board, which represents a genuine collaboration between the public sector and local business leaders.
This is a new and innovative partnership and not simply the private sector being invited into existing public sector structures. Working with government, we have secured an Enterprise Zone on a series of sites along the M1 corridor, which will stimulate growth in the modern manufacturing and technology sectors and secure a long-term source of investment through the local retention of business rates. As announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, we have creatively used £7 million of our £12.3 million national Growing Places Fund to leverage a further £13 million of match funding from the European Union. This will give us a total of £25 million to unblock stalled local infrastructure projects, create jobs and promote sustainable economic growth.
However you measure it, this is a great start for the Partnership. We are clear about the challenges we face and our priorities going forward. These include supporting existing businesses to increase their competitiveness and productivity, developing the Sheffield City Region as the area of choice for private sector investment and reinvestment and creating the workforce of tomorrow by developing an employer-led approach to delivering the skills that the economy really needs. We are also taking steps to put in place the right conditions for growth, which includes improving important transport connections and unlocking the potential of key centres, economic sites or development areas.
We believe we also need a strong two-way partnership and dialogue with government to achieve our aspirations for the City Region. Government is beginning to realise that growth can only be achieved by harnessing the economic power of areas like the Sheffield City Region and is committed, as never before, to working with areas like ours to secure that growth. For our part, we will continue to develop proposals for growth which are well-argued, well-evidenced, brave and bold. We will demonstrate to government that the investment of money, incentives or new powers in the Sheffield City Region, will yield a significant return.
* James Newman is the first chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) established in November 2010. James has a career spanning more than 35 years, including senior roles in manufacturing, services and utilities.
A former Master Cutler and deputy chairman of Sheffield Hallam University, James is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and is currently chairman of Finance Yorkshire and a non-executive director of a number of public companies.
* Employment figures drawn from Nomis: www.nomis.co.uk (October 2011 compared with October 2010).
* Over 3000 or the 6,500 more claimants are aged 16 to 24) (October 2011 compared with October 2010).