The Steel City now embraces the Great Outdoors

SINCE the 19th Century Sheffield has been known around the world as the Steel City, a position cemented by Harry Brearley’s invention of stainless steel just over a century ago.

Sheffield is rebranding itself "The Outdoor City"

And the economy of modern Sheffield is building on its industrial past as it becomes a world leader in advanced manufacturing and digital technology.

But the city is taking a new direction in the face it presents to the outside world by embracing its natural assets.

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Having already made moves over the last year to do more to shout about the city’s prime location for outdoor recreation, those efforts are to be stepped up with a rebranding of Sheffield as The Outdoor City.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “Sheffield’s natural topography and geology is famous amongst climbers, walkers, runners and cyclists.

“But it is the proximity between city living and outdoor pursuits that gives Sheffield its unique identity.

“People who live in Sheffield often cite the easy access to the outdoors and their own community of climbers, walkers, runners and cyclists as reasons for staying in or coming to the city.

“We want to build on this, bring new tourists into the city and encourage outdoor-based businesses to base themselves here – where so many outdoor businesses have succeeded already.”

The approach is heavily influenced by a report written by Maxine Gregory, from Sheffield Hallam University which found outdoor activity was worth £53 million a year to the city’s economy.

It said emphasising Sheffield’s strength in this area would help attract talented people to live and work in the city who enjoy outdoor living, businesses working in the sector and broaden its appeal to tourists.

Ms Gregory, a senior research fellow for the Sport Industry Research Centre, said: “Sheffield has recently played host to Le Grand Depart and Sheffield Grand Prix cycling, has one of the world’s best known mountain bikers in Steve Peat and a global ambassador in Jessica Ennis-Hill.

“Building on our research, the next step is to continue to enhance our reputation for outdoor activities and shout it from the rooftops.”

Establishing Sheffield as The Outdoor City will also be the subject of its next International Economic Commission.

The commissions see international experts invited to Sheffield to examine different parts of its economy to recommend what could be done better.

Coun Bramall said: “The point of these International Economic Commissions is that they’re very much about ‘doing’ – not about meetings and presentations - but about moving forward with creativity and confidence, with input from movers and shakers across the world.

“We have all these wonderful natural assets, and it is vital that we make the most of them, which is what The Outdoor City strategy is all about.”

The commission and the city’s The Outdoor City strategy will be launched at the European Outdoor Summit which is being hosted at Sheffield City Hall next week.