£3.4m jobs scheme

A MULTI-million pound initiative has been launched in South Yorkshire to help private companies create jobs.

In total, 3.4 million is being made available, 2.2m of which has come from the European Union's Regional Development Fund, plus 1.2m from the county's four councils.

The South Yorkshire Sector Growth Enhancement Programme is designed to help existing firms and encourage new companies to locate in the area.

Coun Ian Auckland, cabinet member for business, transport and skills at Sheffield Council, which is contributing 375,000 towards the scheme, said: "So far Sheffield has weathered the economic story fairly well, but we must do everything we can to make sure that our city is in good economic shape and ready to take advantage of any upturn.

"We are too reliant on the public sector and we are working to redress the balance, to increase private sector jobs, focusing on those industries that will help us to maintain and develop further a diverse and sustainable economy."

The recession saw unemployment in Sheffield almost double from 2.5 per cent to 4.8 per cent between 2008 and 2010.

The recently-published State of Sheffield report also revealed an "over-reliance" on public sector jobs.

David Fletcher, director of business investment for Creative Sheffield, a council-funded agency which works to attract business to the city, added: "This programme builds on the success, in recent years, of a strong partnership between the four South Yorkshire local authority investment teams.

"It will allow us to develop our services to support smaller and medium-sized businesses."

Funding will be targeted towards nuclear, healthcare technology, digital and new media, and business and financial services companies.

Sheffield Council is also looking to provide workspace for micro businesses to help locals set up on their own.

The authority is looking at three proposals which could add up to 60,000 sq ft, or 100 new units, of workspace, with sites proposed at Knutton, Parson Cross; Alison Crescent, Manor; and Ann's Grove, Heeley.

A decision on the sites is to be made at a meeting of the council's cabinet on Wednesday.

Coun Auckland said: "We've looked at workspace across Sheffield and found the supply of small and relatively cheap workspace available on flexible terms is limited outside of the city centre and Don Valley.

"Providing additional facilities will encourage individuals from areas of the city, who are traditionally underrepresented in enterprise, to start businesses."

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