Businesses in South Yorkshire will now have access to an expanded team of expert advisers as the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub has appointed seven new Business Growth Specialists.

Following the launch of the ambitious £1.7bn Renewal Action Plan (RAP) by the Mayoral Combined Authority, Mayor Dan Jarvis and the Local Enterprise Partnership’s, the appointment of the Business Growth Specialists is a clear demonstration of how the Sheffield City Region is investing in supporting the local economy. The Renewal Action Plan is designed to support businesses to adapt, survive and thrive in the new environment and to create a more productive and innovative economy.

The seven new members include Steve McKevitt, Caroline Barker, Steve Lyon, Paul Moorhead, Mike Brook, John Mellor and Tim Steel, who join a well-established, experienced team at the Growth Hub offering a wide range of business support.

James Muir, Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairman, explains: “The Renewal Action Plan (RAP) sets out our road map to help South Yorkshire recover from the pandemic and puts us on the path towards social and economic renewal.  An expanded team of specialist advisers at the Growth Hub will help this region’s businesses to return to growth and prosperity – making our economy and society stronger, greener and fairer.”

He continues: “It will come as no surprise that we have experienced increased demand for business support as a result of the global pandemic. It is a critical time for many businesses in our region and what they are experiencing is totally unprecedented, which means it is important that we have a strong team of advisers in place to be able to guide South Yorkshire businesses through the local and national growth schemes that are available to them.”

The new team of Business Growth Specialists have extensive experience. Steve McKevitt has set up, developed and sold his own successful businesses, plus he has worked internationally providing strategic business advice to deliver growth and operational change. He has vast experience in marketing, advertising and public relations and has also worked as visiting Professor of Brand Communication at Leeds Business School.

Caroline Barker brings strong coaching and mentoring skills to the Growth Hub, coupled with a vast amount of experience supporting companies from SMEs to International, delivering sustainable and measurable business growth across the construction, automotive, manufacturing and retail sectors.

Steve Lyon has extensive banking and finance expertise, which has been developed with start-ups through to large entities in a variety of sectors from manufacturing to retail over 30 years. This includes knowledge of funding as a commercial finance broker, as well as experience of working closely with companies affected by the recession in 2009, planning restructures and growth strategies.

Paul Moorhead is a qualified turnaround practitioner who specialises in helping companies to overcome financial barriers to growth, as well as advising businesses that are facing unforeseen financial challenges. He has worked in a diverse range of sectors including industrial products manufacturing, professional services and the low carbon economy on projects involving business strategy, marketing, financial forecasting, investment readiness and business coaching.

Mike Brook is a Mechanical Engineer by profession and has worked in both large businesses and SMEs, holding Directorship positions with two large regional manufacturing businesses. He was one of the first cohort of ‘Diagnosticians’ recruited by the newly reformed Manufacturing Advisory Service in 2000, and in 2008 set up a Consultancy which has delivered over 1200 Business Improvement projects, working with local and National Business Support Agencies.

John Mellor has a background as a business advisor in high volume manufacturing in a variety of sectors. He has also worked as a Lean Facilitator and holds a proven record of driving profitability through change and innovation with single client start-ups to multinational organisations. He has in-depth knowledge of Lean business tools, operational improvement, and management systems, enabling him to support companies to achieve their quality, cost, delivery and growth targets.

Tim Steel has a wealth of knowledge across a broad range of commercial, industrial and support businesses. An Engineer by profession, Tim is a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Chartered Quality Professional. He has spent his career in business and industry, managing global accounts and delivering major projects to budget and now brings his expertise to support businesses in the Sheffield City Region.

Lucy Nickson, Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Vice Chair said: “COVID-19 has had a major economic impact on our region, with high streets and shopping centres closed temporarily, supply chains disrupted and production lines stalled. The hospitality and retail sectors have also been badly hit, as have some areas of manufacturing, especially those supplying into industries such as automotive and aerospace. Businesses are therefore facing a range of challenges.

The new business growth specialists are funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Growth Hub Uplift Fund, which is a local business grant funds scheme that Sheffield City Region was successful in securing.  It was introduced to provide much needed targeted local support and advice to businesses as they face the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the Growth Hub we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the economic downturn and to help businesses to grow again through specialist guidance and expertise in areas such as innovation, skills training, international trade and investment and access to Finance.  This provides additional regional resource to ensure we can engage directly with businesses and provide services and knowledge support to enable them to adapt to the challenges that have come about as a result of COVID-19.”