CITY BUSINESS leaders have praised Sheffield Council for signing a 60-year investment deal with a Chinese firm.
The authority announced the partnership, worth £1bn with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group last week after months of negotiations.
It will be worth more than £220m over the first three years alone and is expected to fund up to five projects in the city centre.
Business leaders have hailed the importance of the agreement with Chinese investors for the future of the city.
And this week the vice chancellor of Sheffield University Professor Sir Keith Burnett is visiting China to strengthen links between the university and the country.
Welcoming the investment deal the executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry Richard Wright. said: “This is the result of long hard work by the city council and other individuals and the whole region should applaud them for that. These investments recognise that the city and its region are becoming a great place to invest and have the potential of being a game changer for Sheffield.
“It’s not just the money, which is huge, but it’s a statement of faith in our potential and should remove years of scepticism in one stroke.”
Rob Darrington, partner in Commercial Property Partners, said: “As a city we have received significant international investment of late, including £20m from Metro for the Digital Campus development that my firm is involved with. Such deals will continue to drive inward and international investment, driving jobs and boosting the regional economy. We look forward to hearing more from the council about where the investment will be going and working to position Sheffield on both the national and international stage.”
Sheffield Business Improvement District manager Diane Jarvis said: “The lasting legacy of the scale and duration of the investment together with the huge potential for new jobs will reach far beyond today’s generation.
“Amongst our businesses I am sensing an increasing optimism about the city centre. The development of The Moor and the plans for the Retail Quarter, and now this announcement, is really positive news for the entire Sheffield City Region and the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’.”
The first tranche of funding could include retail, office and residential developments and plans to bring a five-star hotel to the city.
Sheffield City Council leaders said the deal would also create “hundreds if not thousands of jobs”. It has not yet been decided what the money will be spent on.
A decision-making board with representatives from the council and the construction group will meet at least twice a year.
Sir Keith visits Shanghai and Nanjingthis week to develop existing collaborations and meet with Chinese partners in the University’s award-winning Confucius Institute.
Sir Keith, who speaks Mandarin said: “I am proud to communicate a positive message that the UK and China have much to gain from long-term partnerships on issues of common challenge including low-carbon energy, healthcare technologies, industrial partnerships and sustainable cities.
“Ever since my first visit to China just over a decade ago, I have had a great admiration for the Chinese people, and this has only been strengthened as I have got to know the Chinese colleagues and students who play such an important part in our University and the region.
“Anyone who sees the skyscrapers of Shanghai edging a river of tankers and giant cargo ships weighed down with steel, concrete and coal must catch their breath at the sight of how China’s cities are driving economic transformation for a nation of 1.4 billion people.”