COMMENT: ‘Rotherham Roars’ ahead as a business hotspot

Gulliver's Valley aims to be the 'best day out ever'.
Gulliver's Valley aims to be the 'best day out ever'.
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Rotherham has always been a hard working town, with an illustrious past in coal and steel - now it’s back with a roar.

And it sounds like a 207mph supercar at full throttle.

The council has big plans for Forge Island in the town centre.

The council has big plans for Forge Island in the town centre.

McLaren’s decision to build a £50m factory in the borough - its second in the UK and first in the North - launched it up the global grid of business hotspots.

This story features in Rotherham Roars, The Star’s celebration of the borough’s booming economy, published Wednesday March 28.

ROTHERHAM ROARS IS ONLINE HERE

It was a huge vote of confidence in so much: the expertise at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, a skilled workforce, a mature and highly capable supply chain and that ethic of hard work.

Gulliver's managing director Julie Dalton.

Gulliver's managing director Julie Dalton.

At the same time, the council is earning plaudits for being business friendly, especially the investment and planning teams. And it has a young leader in Chris Read who makes friends wherever he goes, doesn’t hold a grudge and honours a contract through thick and thin.

It is perhaps no surprise then that he is chair of the Combined Authority as voters prepare to elect Yorkshire’s first metro mayor and benefit from devolved powers, extra millions in funding and a seat at the Government’s top table.

Closer ties with Sheffield through the cross border Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District offer further proof that Rotherham can establish and maintain complex arrangements. AMID is a groundbreaking idea in which both councils must ignore political boundaries and put a firm’s needs first.

Other support organisations help complete the picture, with Rotherham Pioneers business group and Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber creating an eco-system where companies can thrive.

Combined with loads of land, easy access to the motorways and a central position in the UK, it all sends an irresistible message to investors - who have responded with enthusiasm. Hydrogen specialist ITM Power, Origin Broadband, Spendor loudspeakers, IT hardware and services company PCM, bedspring maker Wolf Components and surface treatment firm Bodycote are just a few of the firms relocating or setting up operations in the borough.

The established companies are having a good run too. Liberty Speciality Steels, ASD Lighting, Pyronix and Beatson Clark are all investing millions and creating jobs.

One estimate by Rotherham Investment and Development Office puts spend last year at £133m.

Little wonder then that a survey by Irwin Mitchell found it had the fastest growing economy in Yorkshire.

In the pipeline are Dransfield Properties’ £50m village at Waverley, a £35m Gulliver’s Valley theme park and a £43m new leisure development at Forge Island in the town centre.

It seems the harder the Rotherham works the luckier it gets - now hear it roar.

This story features in Rotherham Roars, The Star’s celebration of the borough’s booming economy, published Wednesday March 28.

ROTHERHAM ROARS IS ONLINE HERE