Tuesday 22 December 2015

2015 has been a big year for Sheffield and in turn for Sheffield’s economic development agency, Creative Sheffield. Employment is up on last year with jobs back to pre-recession levels and average salaries rising to £26,141. Unemployment, and crucially, youth unemployment is down, now lower than pre-recession levels.

The Office of National Statistics’ latest figures show an additional 11,600 private sector jobs created in Sheffield in 2014 compared to 2013. Creative Sheffield anticipates a similar rise in private sector jobs when the 2015 figures are released, as local indicators are showing significant growth in the Manufacturing, Education, Retail and Creative and Digital sectors.

The city’s business stock is up nine per cent, with more businesses starting up in Sheffield, than closing down – bucking the trend of previous years. Another indication of business growth in 2015, is the rapid uptake in office space, with local agents optimistic that the city will hit half a million square foot of office take-up when the final deals are calculated at year end. For now – Sheffield sits on an impressive 100 per cent increase in office take up since 2014.

As the interface between Sheffield City Council and the private sector, Creative Sheffield played its part in this year’s business growth and job creation. The Business Sheffield team have been working with 2000 businesses in total and supported 600 start-ups over the course of the year; working specifically with 35 businesses to develop significant export growth strategies and 20 to take their first steps into exporting. While the Invest Sheffield Team have helped attract some of the city’s newest big employers such as Fragomen and SkyBet; now supporting them to recruit and embed in the wider business community.

As the accountable body for the wider Sheffield City Region, Creative Sheffield have managed 120 Regional Growth Fund (RGF) projects over the last 12 months with businesses forecasting more than 3000 new jobs as a result.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development at Sheffield City Council, said “Work carried out locally by Sheffield City Council to boost Sheffield’s economy has culminated in an impressive portfolio of inward investment and business growth this year. The strength of our relationships with the business community – here in the city, at a national and international level and our absolute resolve to create jobs, grow business and improve skills will continue to drive our economy forward in 2016.”

As Sheffield City Council’s economic development agency, Creative Sheffield’s role in 2015 has been to advocate for the business community and help shape plans that will drive Sheffield’s performance in the wider northern economy. Supporting Sheffield businesses in their campaign for a city centre HS2 station where evidence shows this will create 6,500 more jobs and £5 billion additional Growth Value Added (GVA) for Sheffield City Region, is one example of this.

Taking a quick look at the headlines over the last 12 months quickly reveals a number of city-wide initiatives putting Sheffield on the map in 2015. Talent attraction and retention projects like RISE graduate internship scheme (a collaboration between Creative Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield and the private sector) have been held up nationally as a solution to what is being described as the ‘brain drain’ (core cities losing graduate talent to London’s job market). This Sheffield born initiative is about to recruit its 200th graduate into local SMEs and is currently delivering an estimated net GVA of £5.6million per year.

This autumn, Creative Sheffield began work with partners to re-profile Sheffield as The Outdoor City, a campaign which is successfully enhancing the city’s reputation both nationally and internationally. That is, Sheffield being a lifestyle choice for the people who live, work, study and play here, as well as a visitor destination for people who love big city living and the outdoors.

Directly following the European Outdoor Summit which saw over 300 international outdoors brands and business people flock to the city, The Outdoor City draft Economic Strategy was launched and debated at the Sheffield’s International Economic Commission. Here local experts and enthusiasts work alongside their international counterparts to take a deep dive into the city’s signature sectors, identifying opportunities for maximising economic growth.

The strategy itself will be finalised in March 2016, following its public consultation. Promoting Sheffield – as a destination for people who love to walk, run, ride, and climb, or simply just ‘play’ in the outdoors, has proven to have wide-spread appeal. It is a message that will work both, to grow Sheffield’s outdoor economy and to attract and retain talent in the city for future generations.

Whilst we are on the subject of trailblazing city-wide projects; 2015 is the year Creative Sheffield, The University of Sheffield, AMRC, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Harworth Estates and Sheffield Business Park launched ambitious plans to create the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID). AMID made headline news earlier in the year when it attracted Bruce Katz, one of the world’s leading figures in city development, to the region to advise on the initiative.
The Advanced Manufacturing Park is already home to some of Europe’s most significant translational research facilities and two of the UK’s seven flagship ‘Catapult Centres’.

The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing attracts investment into Sheffield from around the world, demonstrated by Rolls Royce’s new Blade Casting facility – as well as supporting local and UK supply chain companies to innovate, adopt new technology and access new markets.

This year, the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050 has neared completion, with internal equipment now being installed; they are due to open their doors in spring 2016. This will be the world’s most advanced, reconfigurable factory, and will massively increase the footprint and expansion potential of that R&D led cluster.

AMID, which will span over two decades, will join the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) to the Sheffield Business Park and on to the city centre. This in turn will anchor manufacturers along the Sheffield-Rotherham economic corridor, creating a district where these world class research, technology and manufacturing businesses can thrive.

AMID, much like RISE and The Outdoor City has changed the way the public and private sectors work together for the good of the city and has been instrumental in shaping the image that Sheffield projects to rest of the world.

Edward Highfield, Director of Creative Sheffield said: “The most notable contributor to economic growth in 2015 is the upturn in confidence that the business community has in the city. This has been as much about changing the way we talk about the city as it has about changing the way we do things.

“Sheffield is of course known all over the world for its steel and manufacturing sectors. In some circles we are known for our arts and cultural scene, for others it’s the Snooker World Championships and for others Sheffield will always be the climbing capital of the UK. One of the things Sheffield has been criticised for in the past is not doing enough to challenge outdated perceptions about the city – perceptions of declining industry or a small town mentality. I don’t think we can be accused of this in 2015.

“This year, Sheffield’s narrative has been amplified because it has the backing of the people who live, work and play in Sheffield. This comes from the strength of our relationships with the business community, the support of two world-class universities, and crucially, because of the game-changing projects that we are collectively driving. The legacy of 2015 is one of business growth, attracting investment, retaining talent and challenging perceptions. Not a bad spring board for 2016!”

A look ahead to 2016 and Creative Sheffield predicts further growth and even closer working with city-wide stakeholders.

What to watch for in 2016?
• Announcements from Sheffield Retail Quarter on the appointment of developer partners and when early works will start.
• Growing momentum of the business led campaign for an HS2 city centre station location.
• How signature projects like AMID and The Outdoor City progress; attracting inward investment and creating jobs.
• Sheffield City Region’s launch of the Growth Hub
• The third Sheffield International Economic Commission, where international experts will take a deep dive, this time into opportunities relating to Sheffield city centre.