The Big Deal
Since my last blog, the City Region has announced a major deal with the Government, which will further allow us to drive forward real economic growth and create jobs for the Sheffield City Region. This deal signals an unprecedented shift in powers and some funding away from Whitehall to the City Region, transferring some responsibility for funding major transport schemes at a local level.
The deal will see Central Government transferring money into a £72m fund for skills and putting money into a transport fund that could be worth £500m. Through a £700m shared investment programme, business leaders will be able to influence local funding allocation decisions so that future investments are prioritised on creating new growth opportunities.
A key element of the ‘City Deal’ scheme will be focused on job creation and skills, with 4,000 new apprenticeships created across the City Region and an additional 2,000 adults trained in new skills. This will see business leaders working closely with councils and education providers to ensure a business-led demand model is created so that businesses have the skills they need for future growth and economic success.
The City Region’s future need for a highly skilled workforce was reinforced last week, as our reputation as a global hub for modern manufacturing and technology received a boost from the Financial Times’ ‘Global Outlook Report’. The study placed our Enterprise Zone at number one in the UK and 37th in the world, nine places ahead of nearest rival Birmingham. This story was celebrated in the local media including the Sheffield Telegraph and the Star, and I was pleased to be able to share our success with Toby Foster on BBC Radio Sheffield’s last Friday morning.
It is a time of sporting success for the City Region, as we enjoyed watching Sheffield’s Jonathan Marray become the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles since 1936. And we continue to celebrate British success in this year’s Tour de France, which bolsters hopes for the Yorkshire Tour 2016 bid, which would see the famous race come through the Sheffield City Region.
The LEP’s Sport, Leisure and Tourism Sector Group will be safeguarding the legacy of this historic year of sport through its ‘Sport, Leisure and Tourism Strategy’, which aims to develop the Sheffield City Region’s reputation as a world-class destination for sports and leisure, whilst growing the tourism economy to create jobs, wealth and a global platform for marketing the area.
As the Olympic Games draws nearer, the City Region is clearly gripped by Olympics fever, which was made clear as the Olympic Torch Relay passed through the City Region at the end of June, and thousands of people turned out to cheer on the torchbearers as they made their way through our streets. It is a long way from 2007, when five years to the day, the floods ripped the heart out of many businesses in the Lower Don Valley and other parts of the City Region. The recovery from that has been an inspiration and I sincerely hope that Sheffield City Region can again lead the way out of the current economic flood we are experiencing.
Today I attended the Teen Tech day at Doncaster Racecourse, which is run by Business Education South Yorkshire (BESY) in conjunction with Teen Tech, founded by Maggie Philbin. It was an eye opener, with over 30 schools and many businesses from all over the City Region attending, supporting and taking part in the event, which aims to inspire and link schoolchildren to business and especially the innovation, technology and creative parts of it. Some of the ideas from the schools were absolutely ‘on the button’ and if this sort of creativity and enthusiasm can be captured by our businesses in the future, then the City Region will never be short on innovation and entrepreneurs. It is vital for our economy that this type of event is supported and I was delighted to see so many businesses and local authorities getting behind this initiative.