James Muir has been appointed the new Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership. Here he tells us why he thinks our region is the perfect place to live, work, and invest…
I’m James Muir; former head of Group National Sales at Volkswagen, and Chair of Trustees at the Astrea Academy Trust. After a career spanning 37 years in the automotive industry, I’m embarking on a new chapter of voluntary work and, as a large part of that, I’m committing to supporting the economic development of the Sheffield City Region, which I call home.
Located at the heart of the UK, the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was formed in 2010 and spans the nine local authorities of Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield.
The LEP board brings together leaders from across the region including private sector business heads, politicians, partners from the world of academia, the Mayor and Trade Union representatives. Working together, we aim to create jobs, drive economic growth and showcase our region to the world.
Formed around the core South Yorkshire conurbation, this LEP geography incorporates varied communities from rural hamlets to thriving urban centres, knitted together by business, transport and economic links and founded on a proud history of manufacturing, engineering and industry. We’re home to more than 1.8 million residents, over 68,000 businesses and more than 750,000 jobs.
The Sheffield City Region LEP is one of only seven that work alongside a Mayoral Combined Authority. A formal membership of councils covering that same geography, the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority was formed in 2014 and became a Mayoral Combined Authority in May 2018 with the election of Mayor Dan Jarvis.
I’m delighted to have joined Mayor Jarvis to steer our region at this crucial time, and look forward to collaborating with public and private sectors to create a Global Innovation Corridor capitalising on the region’s distinct skills and specialisms, and building new complementary areas of expertise to take advantage of the technological revolution.
The SCR has an economy of more than £33bn, which grew by £1.34 billion between 2013 and 2015. The LEP’s target is to grow the economy by 10% (£3.1 billion) between 2014 and 2024. The Region’s Enterprise Partnership is well on track to achieve its original ambition.
In three successive Growth Deals, the first agreed in 2014, the SCR LEP was awarded £360m in Government funding through the Local Growth Fund. This funding is having a transformational impact on our region, through projects such as the Great Yorkshire Way, Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park, University Centre Rotherham and The Glass Works in Barnsley.
Between 2014 and 2017, 37,000 jobs were created in our region, including 2,200 apprenticeships and puts the LEP around four years ahead of its target of creating 70,000 net new jobs by 2024.
The SCR is becoming increasingly attractive as a place to start up, locate and invest. The LEP’s target of generating 6,000 new business start-ups by 2024 is on course to be delivered well ahead of target, with 5,670 of these new enterprises being established in just three years.
Boeing and McLaren have chosen to locate in the Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Park and are great examples of how the SCR economy is growing and developing. Boeing’s new £40m factory is its first manufacturing plant in Europe, and the £50m McLaren Composites Technology Centre will create 200 jobs.
The Sheffield City Region is well placed to become one of the UK’s leading economic centres and an industrial and business beacon of the Northern Powerhouse. It’s also one of the most attractive places to live with some of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes on its doorstep providing the foundation for a thriving tourist industry.
I strongly believe that we are at a threshold of future growth, from which we can capitalise on the encouraging business momentum that has been established in the past four years, and accelerate our productivity transformationally.
It will take vision and strong collaboration across all sectors, and I am looking forward to contributing to that step change.