Drive to close Sheffield’s £1.6bn prosperity gap and boost jobs

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A HEALTH check of Sheffield’s economy shows it is under-performing for a city of its size - but succeeding with cultural and sporting activities, manufacturing, and low carbon industries.

Analysis carried out for a new Sheffield Economic Growth Strategy shows economic output is worth £9.578 billion a year against a ‘potential prosperity’ of £11.2bn - a shortfall of £1.6bn.

But cultural and sporting activities have been highlighted as a success story, attracting over 200,000 overseas visitors last year, generating £100 million for the local economy and supporting 16,000 jobs.

Low carbon industries in Sheffield City region comprise over 300 companies, employ around 10,000 people and contribute £570m to the economy.

Meanwhile manufacturing in Sheffield City region employs over 82,000 people and contributes £3.5bn.

David Child, chair of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce council which has helped create the new strategy, believes attracting new business is key to making the city more prosperous.

He said: “Our aim is to encourage success for every layer of the local economy - from the big players to small companies and new social enterprises.

“Sheffield must provide the range and quality of business services for companies to set up and grow here.

“On top of that, we really can harness the power of our cultural assets, a concerted retail and leisure offer, combining Meadowhall with a revitalised city centre, and our programme of major events and festivals to make Sheffield a stand-out place to be and visit.

“This all helps attract new business activity and jobs. But in all these endeavours we all have to move up a few gears to deliver and create those much needed opportunities for younger generations.”

The Sheffield Economic Growth Strategy, set to be approved by Sheffield Council’s cabinet next Wednesday, aims to focus on ‘driving new economic and business opportunities’ in advanced manufacturing, health, sports and medical sciences, digital, and low carbon technologies.

Creative and digital industry is one of the ‘highest value sectors in the city’ creating £53,000 of output per employee, and is set to grow significantly by 2020, the strategy says.

Other aims include pressing ahead with investment in skills, funded with £72m under the Sheffield City Deal, to create 4,000 apprenticeships and provide 2,000 ‘up-skilling opportunities’ by 2015.

Sheffield aims to make ‘full use’ of its Enterprise Zone status - through which sites in areas such as the Lower Don Valley have favourable planning and tax incentives - to attract investment.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “This strategy has identified the opportunities for Sheffield to develop business in the city by all partners working closely together.

“It will focus our minds on the things that will drive the city forward through this tough period for businesses, so that we can take advantage of the major opportunities that do exist.”