Reduced investment levels, employment uncertainty and receding markets: these are not the characteristics of a thriving local economy, but they are in danger of becoming the new reality for Sheffield City Region’s economic outlook, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
In recent months the city region’s story has been one of record investment, new jobs and creation of new enterprise. After years of uncertainty, the city region is building solid momentum to become a driving force in the Northern Powerhouse.
However market uncertainty is now at risk of slowing the pace of change, although this isn’t showing up in actual economic performance yet. If uncertainty takes hold, it could become a self-fulfilling prophesy and spark a crisis of confidence among the very people who provide the fuel for industry’s growth.
The FSB’s regional development manager Neville Martin said: “The last few months have seen a growing culture of incubation and acceleration, providing a platform for strong, sustainable growth for the city region’s economy.
“But as we begin the Brexit process, local industry leaders need to provide reassurance and encouragement in order to avoid the crisis that so many fear. They in turn will require assurance that their need for highly talented individuals to drive the technology, innovation and manufacturing expertise for the future will be fulfilled within the government’s industrial strategy.
“Local technology companies will create hundreds of hi-tech jobs in the next few years and the government needs to clarify its policy on opening the UK’s borders to allow entry to world-class expertise from overseas. But more locally-based assurance needs to come also from the Local Enterprise Partnership, confirming that initiatives are in place to cultivate home-grown talent.
“Sheffield City Region innovates better than anywhere else in the world, and that message needs to resonate globally. If the region’s business community can seize its own destiny and demonstrate that solutions to the skills issue are in hand, the pre-Brexit jitters will evaporate.
“By reinforcing the city region’s confidence in itself, investor confidence in our ability to proper will be reinforced, the doubters silenced and our potential will be realized. If we speak with a consistent voice and present a confident face to the world, momentum can be sustained and market certainty will prevail.”