Region battles for business in zone

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BUSINESS leaders behind one of Yorkshire’s flagship Enterprise Zones last night unveiled a package of tax breaks and other incentives in a bid to attract millions of pounds worth of investment from manufacturing firms.

James Newman, the chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), travelled to the world’s largest annual property event in Cannes, France, yesterday to sell the deal to top international executives.

The Sheffield City Region was among the first 10 areas in the country, alongside Leeds, to win Enterprise Zone status, under a policy which the Government hopes will help kick start the country’s economy and lead Britain out of the downturn.

Chancellor George Osborne then announced in November’s Autumn Statement that companies in the Sheffield zone, along with five others including the Humber, were to qualify for 100 per cent capital allowances on plant and machinery.

The LEP said the enhanced allowances, combined with the other incentives on offer including business rate relief, fast-track planning and superfast broadband, are designed to encourage manufacturers to make “substantial investments”.

The tax breaks on capital investments are available up to a total limit of £300m and Mr Newman said he was expecting “significant interest in the international business community”.

Speaking after yesterday’s event he added: “We hope that these incentives will attract investment from global advanced manufacturing and technology companies, creating hundreds of jobs for local people and providing a catalyst for continued economic growth.

“The vision of the Enterprise Zone is to build on the City Region’s significant credentials and strengths in advanced manufacturing and materials to develop a modern manufacturing and technology area.”

The Sheffield City Region LEP was set up after the coalition Government announced that regional development agency Yorkshire Foraward was to be scrapped.

It is using its Enterprise Zone status to create what it has called a “manufacturing and technology growth area along the M1 motorway corridor, with EZ sites at junctions 36 in Barnsley, 33/34 in Sheffield/Rotherham (including the Advanced Manufacturing Park alongside the Sheffield Parkway) and 29a at Markham Vale, near Chesterfield.

Under Government rules, the 100 per cent first year allowance will be available to companies investing in plant or machinery from April 1 this year until March 31 2017.

Reacting to the LEP offer yesterday, Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is good news for the region, and in more ways than many people realise.

“We talk constantly about support for small and medium enterprises and them being the power house of future growth, which is very true. But we have to think carefully about the best way to help them.

“Many of our SMEs are involved in supply chains, or supporting supply chains, that trade internationally with major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“To properly balance this region we need more of these types of businesses, supply chain integrators that can take major contracts, then flow the work down through our SME network.

“The £300m will help this specifically but it is then backed by incentives for the smaller companies on other areas of the Enterprise Zone to encourage them to invest.

“The economy of the Sheffield City Region is well placed to exploit the deal that the LEP has secured for us so I say well done.”