Obama adviser to cast expert eye over the Sheffield economy

A FORMER adviser to President Barack Obama will be among a team of international experts helping Sheffield develop plans to grow its economy and its reputation on the global stage.

Bruce Katz

The city’s council has launched a new ‘International Economic Commission’ which will see a series of world-renowned experts in their fields visit Sheffield to cast their eye over plans to create jobs and improve the quality of life.

It is also hoped that by seeing what the city is doing well, the visitors will become ambassadors for Sheffield around the world and help build links with other cities.

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The first member of the Commission to visit the city will be Bruce Katz, a former adviser to President Obama and expert on the role of cities in growing the economy.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “It’s about getting the best people there are to look at our plans and strategies and really road test them.

“Are there things we are missing, things we could be doing better, things we should be doing for example?

“We want people who are looking at Sheffield from the outside to give us that perspective, to check our plans are as robust and ambitious as possible.”

The City Council has set out proposals to support three key areas of the local economy - advanced manufacturing, the city centre and using assets such as the nearby Peak District to attract visitors.

Commission members will focus on these three areas and offer ideas on how Sheffield can make more of what is already in the city.

But the authority also hopes that engaging with experts who are constantly travelling around the globe and speaking to international investors will help raise Sheffield’s profile and attract businesses to invest.

Coun Bramall said: “Sheffield is a city very comfortable in its own skin, there’s a lot of good stuff happening but we don’t always shout about it. We want to change that.”

He added: “The more people at the very highest level we can have connected with Sheffield, speaking and thinking well of Sheffield and going out and selling the city to the world the better.”

Mr Katz, who was also part of the President Clinton administration and is currently vice-president of the Washington-based Brookings Institution, will focus on advanced manufacturing in the corridor between Sheffield and Rotherham when he visits next month.

He said: “I’ve heard great things about the Sheffield City Region and particularly its research-led advanced manufacturing capability, so I’m keen to come and see it for myself.”

The lessons learned from the series of visits will be pulled together in a report to be compiled by the Centre for Cities thinktank.

Andrew Carter, acting chief executive at Centre for Cities, said: “Sheffield is a fantastic city with huge potential to take a more prominent role in driving national economic prosperity.

“I have no doubt that Bruce’s visit, bringing an enormous amount of expertise and experience, will represent an important step forward for Sheffield - one that I hope other cities will also be able to learn from and emulate.”