When the concept of creating a cutting-edge business park dedicated to manufacturing was mooted for South Yorkshire 20 years ago it may not have seemed like the sturdiest of investment ideas.
The idea for the park, to be based close to the former Orgreave Colliery site, would ultimately become the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre (AMRC) and prove to be one of the Yorkshire economy’s most successful developments in recent times.
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With global manufacturing giants doing some of their most important research and development work there, along with the fantastic interplay it enjoys with the area’s universities, it is a great example of something that was built to service the needs of the future rather than the past.
It is little wonder then that it should serve as a template for what success looks like for other parts of the county.
Readers of The Yorkshire Post will have read in recent days the remarks of Finbarr Dowling of global manufacturing giant Siemens.
Mr Dowling is the project director for the firm’s ambitious plan to build a £200m manufacturing site at Goole that will be dedicated to the railway sector.
The business leader told me last week that he hopes the factory will become an epicentre for a host of facilities to develop a world-leading infrastructure location for the sector and that he hopes to emulate the achievements of the AMRC in the south of the region in its easterly areas.
Siemens intends not just to build a factory on the site but to surround it with facilities that will service the sector.
A network of facilities is envisaged which will focus on diverse industries such as artificial intelligence, robotics and data analytics.
The plan makes total sense.
One of the richest commodities there is in the modern world is that of data, so much so that it is frequently referred to as the ‘new oil’.
There are not many industries that attract such a rich pool of data than the railway industry.
Moreover, if we are finally to get transport infrastructure we so desperately need in the North of England, it should surely follow that the work to design, create and maintain this should be done in the North as well.
And again, the facilities will be designed to have powerful links into the best universities of the North to tap into the research and innovation that its students and academics provide.
Siemens have a decent track record of delivering investment into the North.
I hope that Mr Dowling’s forward-thinking hopes for East Yorkshire are backed by planners and politicians and that the region gets to enjoy the spoils of another forward-thinking vision.
Speaking of northern prosperity, it is with great excitement that we reveal this week that the Great Northern Conference is to return in 2020.
Last year’s event, organised by The Yorkshire Post’s owners, JPIMedia, and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, helped put the key issues of the region front and centre and attracted national attention in the process.
By putting northern empowerment back in the spotlight the event laid the groundwork for last summer’s successful Power Up the North Campaign.
This in turn led to political parties focusing on the North more than ever in their election manifestos and sent the unambiguous message that this part of the country is not willing to put up with being treated as a secondary concern for a moment longer.
One of the many highlights from last year was the remarks of Lord O’Neill that devolution was more important than Brexit.
In this I wholeheartedly agree and I hope that the former attracts more attention than the latter as we move on from this sorry chapter in our history.
This year’s event will be bigger than ever and comes to the Cutler’s Hall in Sheffield on March 19. I do hope to see as many of you there as possible.