Collaborating for investment success
By way of introduction, I am an American working for Sheffield City Region to increase new investment. My end game is to create an extra 7,000 jobs in the next 10 years from foreign direct investment. The role of my team is to offer a bespoke service to businesses with expansion plans into the UK. None of this would be possible without the excellent support offered by our partners, whether that is Local Authority teams or supportive members of the private sector. Collaboration is the name of this game.
The fact that my team exists is thanks to the vision of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). They identified a gap in resource and made the decision it is sensible to work regionally, rather than as individual Local Authorities, on this kind of work. The LEP put a framework in place to create this team.
I would try and describe a typical day in the office, but the truth is every day is different. It is a complex international operation. Last week we hosted a Chinese business delegation from Xian province to showcase the huge strides Sheffield City Region is making in advanced engineering on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham. The visitors were blown away by the quality of innovative technology developed on the AMP. This is what makes my job a pleasure, showing people the scale of ambition and achievement.
Collaboration is important. Sometimes it makes sense to market jointly with Leeds City Region. We enjoyed working with the team on joint Tour de France events at international property event, MIPIM 2014. The critical mass two City Regions can attract is advantageous. In June, we co-hosted investor events at OMTEC, an orthopaedic manufacturing and technology exhibition in Chicago. The healthcare sector spans the two City Regions so it is logical we present the commercial opportunities in a co-ordinated way. It is also a money saver, enabling us to do more promotional activity for less.
The role of my team is to find the companies who do have plans to come to the UK and convince them that Sheffield City Region is the place to be. We have an award winning foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy that involves targeting businesses in key sectors. We work with local companies to showcase the City Region’s capabilities at events like the Singapore Airshow which we attended in February this year.
Making the case that the City Region offers companies the competitive advantage that can help grow their business is when I rely on the experts. We are fortunate to work in partnership with nine Local Authority economic development teams who know the detailed business opportunities on offer. They range from qualified HR consultants, Logistics specialists, to Advanced Engineering specialists. This means we have a wealth of skills to draw on.
Typically businesses want to know about the labour market, property options, costs and which companies are already here. They always want to know what incentives we can offer. In a global economy, we are competing against other locations so we need world beating incentives. It is with confidence we are able to offer our Enterprise Zone which offers Business Rate Relief and Enhanced Capital Allowances. It is ranked number 1 in the UK for Modern Manufacturing and Technology by FDI magazine, run by The Financial Times. Our Enterprise Zone has already attracted 18 new occupiers including X-Cel Superturn, Sarclad and Xeros, creating 345 new jobs. A further 350 new jobs are expected to start soon as a direct result of the Enterprise Zone with most recent investors M&S and Great Bear Distribution.
Investment is happening from global players. Why do brands like Rolls-Royce choose to build a new factory here? Dr. Hamid Mughal, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing Engineering and Technology at Rolls-Royce says:
“There are fantastic facilities in Sheffield.
“We are looking for a competitive supply chain and Sheffield has just the right culture, environment and the right technical advantage.”
With such emphatic belief, it really draws into focus the factors that make investment and growth happen. The culture of collaboration in Sheffield City Region is paying off. The public, private and education sectors are building that momentum together.