Brenda Jordan, Operations Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Sheffield definitely has positive momentum at the moment as evidenced by the number of cranes towering above the city. We do seem to have developed some sort of commercial strategy built around growth, productivity and added value which may have been lacking for some years. Not before time of course but a demonstration of the cultural journey we have made as well.

It is critical that we maintain this momentum through 2018 and beyond if we are going to close the gap with other core cities in the country. The political environment is fluid. Brexit, devolution and some developing conflict points around the world raise real uncertainties about the climate in which we are going to have to achieve this growth.

There isn’t a lot we can do about the international tensions but we can, and we must, do everything we can to ensure we get the best possible outcome from Brexit and Devolution. This is one of the primary roles of the Chamber – to ensure the local business voice is heard through growing our membership – because we lobby directly and indirectly through our parent organisation, the British Chambers of Commerce who have a direct line to Westminster. This will also have the knock-on effect of improving business growth and opportunities across the city.

Even if we get the best resolution we can from the above issues the fact remains that we will have to trade in an increasingly competitive world. Many people talk about GDP growth but businesses know that its profit that really counts. We believe that to achieve that businesses need to increase their productivity. The average business in Germany does in four days what the average business in the UK takes five days to do. This is a disadvantage that will cripple us if we don’t close the gap. To do so means we need to invest in new technologies, ensure our employees receive the right training and bring new products to the market. We need to focus even more on what the customer wants because if we don’t, somebody else will.

For the first time in many years we believe at the Chamber that Sheffield is capable of making that transformation. The link between academia and business is critical but we do it better than most now via organisations like the AMRC and the Olympic Legacy Park. We know what we want to be good at, and we even aspire to being the best. It’s a great time to live and work in Sheffield but it’s a journey that needs to go on for much longer.

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