The world-leading reputation of the Sheffield City Region for advanced manufacturing brought a high-level delegation from the US Congress to the region to see the success story for itself this week.
Ron Kind, US Representative for Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district, is an expert on small businesses, while Derek Kilmer, who represents Washington’s 6th congressional district, has worked in economic development for over a decade. Both were keen to see the work of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
Rep Kind said: “Visiting Sheffield City Region was yet another reminder of the importance of community and University partnerships. As I see in similar projects across western and central Wisconsin, collaboration makes our communities and nations stronger and more productive.”
Rep Kilmer said: “When I’m back home I say often that the role of government is to create more opportunities for more people in more places. It is clear that’s what’s happening in Sheffield City Region. I’ve learned a lot on my visit, and I hope that it leads to even stronger partnerships which create great jobs here and back home.”
America is an important export market for the City Region: the most recent figures show that in 2015 the region exported manufactured goods worth £450million to the US. America has also has been the largest investor in the SCR between 2006-16, accounting for approximately 25% of the investment coming into the region.
US investment includes Amazon’s third fulfilment centre in Doncaster; the expansion at Premdor UK Holdings factory in Barnsley by Masonite International; Euramax International’s expansion at its Barnsley site; and increased steel wire production at the Leggett and Platt plant in Grimethorpe.
The Congressmen were accompanied by Mr Kilmer’s Chief of Staff, and Mr Kind’s Legislative Director. Also on the visit, arranged by the Department for International Trade, were Grant Kerr, Senior Congressional Advisor at the British Embassy in Washington, and Meghan Ormerod, the Senior Trade Policy Advisor at the Embassy.
The visit was accompanied by Mark Robson, DIT Regional Director Yorkshire; Cllr Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member and Paul Woodcock, Assistant Director for Planning, Regeneration and Transport for Rotherham Council; and David Campbell-Molloy, Senior Programme Manager, and Tony Corby, Senior Business Development Manager, both from Sheffield City Region
The group saw the advanced manufacturing technologies on display and talked to senior personnel at the Rolls-Royce ‘Factory of the Future’.
Chris Scholey, chair of the Trade and Investment Board of the Sheffield City Region, said: “The University of Sheffield’s AMRC is a resource rightly valued and respected around the world, and we are very proud to work with its staff.
“Helping to bring Boeing and MacLaren in as neighbours to the AMRC was very important to the City Region, and we invested significant funding to help that happen.
“We have a strong business ethic here – our approach is simple, straightforward and pragmatic. In the Region we grab each opportunity and make the most of it, whatever the size of the company, whatever its sector and whatever its ambition. We do this daily with domestic and international business partners alike.”
Adrian Allen, executive commercial director of the AMRC, said: “It was great to meet our friends from America who were very interested in how the AMRC has been the catalyst for the transformation of the Sheffield City Region.
“They were especially interested in how our research and innovation assets, coupled with top quality skills and training, are acting as a powerful magnet for inward investment.
“The before and after images of what this part of our region looked like little more than a decade ago, and what it looks like now, with two new production plants for McLaren and Boeing being built, speaks volumes for the scale of change. And there is more to come.”
Coun Lelliott said: “I’m delighted to welcome visitors from the United States, and it has been a great pleasure to show them the AMRC which is a huge asset in the Rotherham district. It symbolises the forward-looking nature of our area.”
Mark Robson told the visitors: “We are always proud to show international visitors the great strengths of the Sheffield City Region. The AMRC is undoubtedly a world leader and something we support very strongly.”