What a year for this region! We’ve smashed targets, seen fantastic growth in jobs, foreign investment from giant names such as McLaren and Boeing, and record apprenticeship recruitment. Six thousand homes have been built, and we have launched major infrastructure projects unlocking land for homes and business.
There isn’t space here to detail everything, so I offer you the highlights:
Right at the start of the year, in January, we were awarded £38million in the latest round of Northern Powerhouse funding. We also launched our annual series of Quarterly Economic Surveys run in partnership with the Chambers from across the SCR. The surveys, which bring us the valuable views of local businesses, help shape our economic policy through the year.
February saw the cheering announcement of multi-million investments by McLaren and Boeing – putting us up there with the super-regions of the world. This was also the month in which we proudly achieved record apprenticeship numbers.
In March work started on the £400million Peak Resort, a new type of quality UK resort destination, while Barnsley Council committed a further £70million for its town centre transformation. A strong City Region delegation flew out to property conference MIPIM Cannes with a £1billion portfolio of investment opportunities to showcase, ranging from the UK’s first advanced manufacturing district, to the international Aero Centre’s development, massive urban regeneration, and our £20million housing and property fund.
In April the Trade and Inward Investment team attended Multimodal, England’s premier logistics conference, to represent the huge strength of that sector in this region, while May saw our best ever year for foreign investment, up by a record 50 per cent on 2016, with a massive £1.9billion pumped into the region, and more than 7,000 jobs created or safeguarded.
As we got to the halfway point of the calendar, June was the month when we saw the launch of a major speculative development at the Doncaster iPort logistics site. The second Amazon warehouse at iPort is 1.1 million sq ft, half a kilometre in length, and equivalent to 14 football pitches. The same month saw an SCR team making valuable business connections at the Paris Air Show.
In July we had a wide range of news: Sheffield’s ‘Top Ten’ tech firms were close to a total turnover of £10billion, we launched our integrated employment service for both jobseekers and those struggling with work, and the Government committed to the HS2 Eastern route with a spur to Sheffield.
August saw our business support service, the Growth Hub, announce that it had spectacularly smashed its own targets – having worked with 4,000 businesses in its first year. September was the month when we celebrated Boeing’s groundbreaking on its site alongside Sheffield University’s Factory 2050; and Rotherham College started building a University Centre to address the skills gap locally with degrees and higher-level qualifications. The Centre is being built with £3.5million support from the SCR.
October brought us yet another fantastic launch as the National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster – which we are very proud to have supported with £6million of devolved local growth funding – opened its doors. We welcomed five new, enthusiastic members to our LEP Board and in a very short time they impressed us with their commitment and skills.
Moving on to November – this was another incredible month, with the Horasis China conference attracting 300 top Chinese businesspeople to the region, and eight places in the region shortlisted as potential sites for the Heathrow Logistics Hub. We announced that more than 7,000 learners had used our Skills Bank for training, while our first ever trade delegation to Poland, a joint initiative with the Department for International Trade, was deemed a great success.
And so to December – a month which easily measures up to the other 11 of this cracking year! We’ve finalised plans to charter a flight from Doncaster Sheffield Airport to MIPIM Cannes, we’ve hosted a reception in London with over 50 potential investors, and we’ve discussed trade opportunities with India at the Indian High Commission.
I know 2018 is going to be another momentous year for the Sheffield City Region. I hope it will prove so too for all our readers!
Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair, Sheffield City Region LEP
(Image shows Boeing’s first AMRC apprentices at this year’s groundbreaking ceremony).