Column: City Region a great place to be

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In 2018, there is only one place to be. This celebration, over two months in the summer of 2018, is an unrivalled opportunity to demonstrate why the North is a powerhouse for the UK in the 21st century.

The Great Exhibition of the North will transform how the North of England is seen by people living here and further afield. It will be a focal point for all of us to re-discover the unique qualities that make Britain and in particular the North of England, such a compelling place, for business, for tourism, for cutting-edge innovation and research, for entrepreneurial grit, for world-class creativity and culture.

These qualities will come to the fore through a programme of diverse activities designed to attract a million-plus people to enjoy.

The Great Exhibition of the North will echo for years to come all over the UK and beyond in the memories of our future investors, students and creators. Sheffield City Region’s bid brims with inspiring ambition, and the quiet capability to host and deliver for the North.

Over recent months I have seen Sheffield, a city I have lived and worked in for over 30 years, blossom. I have seen the familiar in new ways. Over the last couple of weeks I have been amazed by how University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind has captivated audiences from far and wide. Discussion, performance and light installations have drawn thousands here to participate, observe and enjoy their time here.

In the summer, our city glowed with 100,000 people dancing across our city centre to the tunes of Tramlines. We all know our communities, towns and cities; we know the people and the places they go; but it takes quiet and invisible, but deftly planned programmes to really bring our places to life, to capture imaginations.

These fantastic festivals are about a City Region pushing forward, embracing its heritage for bold thought and innovative action, and forging its future.

As a businessman in the city and as an adviser to the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, I’ve seen our journey to where we are at the forefront of real change in our country.

From May 2017 we will be one of three regions in the UK with a Mayor and a devolution deal that transfers powers and £1 billion of public funding for 30 years.

Our towns and city centres are flourishing, our Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District breaks new ground, and more people, whether investors, businesses, families want to build their futures here.

Sheffield City Region is simply a great place to be.