It’s a new year, it’s a new dawn – but will it be a new life for Sheffield City Region?

As we kick off 2019, we asked our If You Ask Me contributors their predictions for the region in the new year, as well as what challenges they expected.

So, what’s the lay of the land looking like for the region as we look over the horizon in the new dawn of a new year?

As Dom Stokes points out 2018 was ‘far from boring’. Working for SIV in the entertainment industry, he says he’s ‘used to excitement whether it is the biggest act of the day playing at the FlyDSA Arena Sheffield, or a dramatic come-from-behind victory by the Steelers in front of a packed house’. (I’m definitely with him on the first one – as our unLTD graphic designer Simon Waller and I caught Def Leppard at the Arena in December and it was an amazing early Christmas present!)

But as well as a ‘coordinated marketing approach for our area’, Dom also wants ‘a lot more stability’, saying: ‘Brexit will be the of issue of our times, so it will always be a background noise to whatever is going on…stability is what is needed and Brexit is the perfect example of this.’

As his late Christmas present for 2019, Dom adds: ‘A little bit of calm wouldn’t go amiss, please’ to his wish list.

And as Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce’s Glen Banks points out: ‘It seems that politics has never felt as unstable with Brexit having dominated the landscape for over two years.’

He points out, however, that closer to home the Sheffield City Region is also undergoing a period of uncertainty, with a change in the leadership of the LEP, and lots of question marks over issues like transport and infrastructure.

But helping to counter that confusion is our secret weapon – what Glen sums up as: ‘Yorkshire grit, combined with our honesty and down to earth approach’.

Kevin Donnelly from the Federation of Small Businesses handily gave us his top three areas which the Sheffield City Region needs to tackle ‘to thrive and be one of the country’s leading regions’ – skills, business support, and business rates.

Among Kevin’s list of areas for improvement in 2019 is the need to ‘recognise that retailers are a major contributor to the local economy’.

Not something you’d have to convince Paddy Mellon at Frenchgate of. After reflecting on the ways the Doncaster shopping centre has boosted its offering this year beyond the concept of simply ‘floors of stores’, the general manager is a man on a mission in 2019 to continue ‘innovating’ the high street in Doncaster and beyond.

So, a new year, a new dawn, a new life, then. And, if we experience and embrace all of the above, perhaps the city region really will be ‘feeling good’.

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