Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has called on business leaders in the city region to play their part in driving forward ‘transformational’ growth projects from the private sector.
New Chamber President Stephen Williams believes 2014 will be an important year to build the foundations for long-term growth and wants company owners to think big and inspire others to follow.
Mr Williams was speaking at the Chamber’s inaugural President’s reception after being elected to the role in October. He said: “We are starting to see the economy turn a corner so we now need to be positive about the city region and everything which is good about it. We need to make sure the message that we are open for business gets across.
“There are certain funds available and we know of people looking to make inward investment into the city, so the Chamber is working hard to harness that opportunity. We must find people wanting to develop big projects which require funding so we can put the two together and bring about a proper economic regeneration.
“Sheffield Chamber is playing its part in driving forward growth in the city region. We want to be a critical friend of the City Council and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to encourage decision making and provide the right environment for business.
“As a city we all need to be ambassadors for the city region and shout about the expertise we have through the companies located here.
“We have some good businesses, all working hard and many very resilient. But we need to see more business-led transformational projects which set ambitious targets and will put this city region amongst the best in the world.
“Great leaders create a vision of the future and inspire people to get behind that vision and deliver it.”
Chamber vice president Jillian Thomas said the city was set to host a number of City Fund managers next year to showcase the exciting opportunities and benefits of doing business in the Sheffield City Region.
She said: “We’ve described the tour as the ‘The Money Bus’ as it offers an opportunity for businesses to potentially access the billions of pounds available from infrastructure funds looking to invest in key projects.
“With the Bank of England’s base rate continuing to be low and bank lending still problematic, major investors are looking for significant projects to finance.
“Wealth creation is vitally important for the city region. It creates employment opportunities, job growth and a better future for our children. Sheffield City Region is leading the way in many areas and we must take advantage of that to secure the inward investment which is available.”
Meanwhile, Yuri Matischen, chair of the LEP’s Sport, Leisure and Tourism sector, outlined at the reception the target to develop ten global events in the city region to increase the visitor economy and change perceptions of the area.
He aims to build on events such as the World Snooker Championships, St Leger Festival, DocFest and the Tour De France, while growing additional activities such as MADE, Tramlines and the Global Manufacturing Festival.
Mr Matischen added: “The aim of the Major Events Strategy is to secure £5million from the LEP and match-fund it from private sector and other investors over the next five years to develop ten events which will have a global impact. By achieving this we believe it will bring in more than £100million to the regional economy.
“This initial investment is a small amount compared with other major UK cities, but it will provide us with the foundations to promote the region’s brand to a global audience through a dynamic and cost-effective programme of events.”