Greater collaboration will fuel enterprise zones’ success

Posted on 9 Nov 2012 by The Manufacturer

by Richard Smith, partner, hlw Keeble Hawson

We were commissioned to act for Harworth Estates when Rolls-Royce invested £11m in the new enterprise zone at South Yorkshire’s flagship Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Richard Smith, partner, hlw Keeble Hawson
Richard Smith, partner, hlw Keeble Hawson

That deal presents a major opportunity to create a dynamic cluster of world class companies that will power the region’s economic growth.

One of the first ten enterprise zones to be rolled out across England by the coalition Government – and established in a city recently ranked as the 47th best place in the world to do business – the initiative is undoubtedly a major shot to boost the recovery of the manufacturing sector.

So why are we reading and hearing so little about the new enterprise zone that is such a vibrant catalyst for urban regeneration and which brings a plethora of benefits, including discounts on business rates worth up to £275k over five years coupled with simplified planning regulations?

And whose role is it to champion and support these zones aimed at turbo charging local economies and private sector growth?

A recent gathering of leading business advisers in Sheffield mooted concerns that many in the business world are giving the new enterprise zones a lukewarm reception.

This apathy stems in part from the experiences of the old enterprise zones when some companies cashed in on lucrative land deals and incentives – leaving no tangible benefits for local economies.

It’s important that we look forwards not backwards – the new enterprise zones are different – and more sophisticated. Aimed at specific sectors, they represent a vibrant opportunity to create world class clusters of innovative and sustainable businesses that will leave a real and lasting legacy that our future generations can be proud of.

Here in South Yorkshire the rates incentives and associated benefits are not perceived as the real drivers to encouraging businesses on board. Business leaders regard the creation of clusters of quality manufacturing and technology companies as primary motivators.

As an established Sheffield legal firm which has been involved for several years in deals to sell and let land to businesses seeking to benefit from the prime position of the Advanced Manufacturing Park, we believe it is critical that South Yorkshire’s business community collaborates in a unified drive to encourage high value supply chains to make the zones their homes.

Intermediaries – in particular lawyers and accountants – have a vital role to play in supporting their manufacturing sector clients to capitalise on this dynamic opportunity on their doorstep.

They can do this by:

  • Supporting and encouraging inward investment at every opportunity – specifically by targeting global names like Rolls-Royce which is constructing a 14,900 sq m advanced blade casting facility with the aim of manufacturing 100,000 blades annually when fully operational in 2014
  • Collaborating to equip manufacturers with the best possible business advice which includes the financial incentives available to them through the enterprise zone status
  • Promoting and backing South Yorkshire’s manufacturing companies to dispel outmoded perceptions and images of an old fashioned and dirty sector. Image is key to encouraging inward investment and attracting young, skilled people to the industry.
  • Collaborating with Sheffield’s universities, colleges and schools to create and retain a top talent pool to support a world class manufacturing sector

It is the collective responsibility of the business community across the breadth and depth of England to champion and promote the enterprise zones which are seeking to create over 30,000 much needed new jobs by 2015.

Closer to home, in the knowledge that an increasingly buoyant manufacturing sector is essential to secure the city region’s future prosperity – and propel South Yorkshire higher up the global rankings – let us all play our individual and collective role in ensuring they become acknowledged as trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity.