STAR COMMENT: Courage and vision will make us great

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Reluctantly I have to give the English Defence League column inches in my paper – again.

They will swarm around Sheffield tomorrow causing the usual commotion, purportedly in the name of child protection.

Poppycock!

RELATED ARTICLE: Sheffield leaders tell EDL protestors ‘Stay out of our city’

If their motives are so honourable, then I’m left wondering why the EDL representative my reporter arranged to interview at 3pm yesterday didn’t manage to answer their phone, despite repeated attempts.

We’ll keep trying to find someone from the Sheffield branch of the EDL to front up and be interviewed, but don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile I’d prefer to refer to an event that really is for the good of Sheffield and beyond – last night’s Sheffield City Region Business Awards.

The black tie event held at Ponds Forge is now a well-established fixture in the business calendar, and draws together the best businesses this region has to offer.

To walk away with a prize on the night, with more than 45,000 companies eligible to compete, is no easy task.

But I had the pleasure of standing before the 400-strong gathering and introducing the guest speaker for the night, Sir Gary Verity.

Yorkshire’s Man of the Year and Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, he is the man who had the vision and the courage to bring the Tour de France to God’s Own Country.

Inspired by Sir Gary’s achievements, I took the opportunity to dwell upon what I believe the business and political leaders of this city have to possess in order to help this city punch its weight: courage and vision.

This region has won only the second devolution deal in the country – backed by a £300m growth deal.

We MUST spend it wisely but with ambition, with strategic foresight and with absolute conviction.

The city region’s airport just turned 10 years old, and with the opening of the Sheffield-Doncaster link road in January next year, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport is looking to soar past Leeds-Bradford within just five years.

Sheffield’s former airport site has its own positive story to tell, too: if The University of Sheffield’s AMRC2 comes off we’ll be looking at 2,000 new jobs and £60m+ being pumped into the local economy...EVERY YEAR!

But we must be brave. We must hire the most visionary developers and business strategists in the world, and back them to make us great again.