Why Sheffield Could Be the Next Northern Powerhouse

Although listening to the politicians down in Westminster utter the now hollow phrase “Northern Powerhouse” is enough to elicit eye rolls at best or uncontrollable rage at worst, there’s still potential in the phrase. The North’s slice of the economic cake has been growing rapidly over the past couple of years, helped along by people, capital and jobs fleeing the overheated London and South East markets to set up shop up North. Add to that the fact that the economy of Yorkshire alone is larger than 11 other EU countries, and twice the size of the economy of Wales, and you start to see the potential Northern cities have to become real economic and political powerhouses.

While much of the conversation about a newly ascendant North is centred around the booming cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, people have started to take notice of Sheffield. Here’s exactly why Sheffield could be the next real Northern Powerhouse.


We’re a Cultural Superpower

Think Sheffield culture and you’ll, of course, conjure up images of Def Leppard, Human League and the Arctic Monkeys, but there’s more than that in modern Sheffield. The creative industry is skyrocketing, now accounting for almost 10% of the employed population of the city, whilst our very own Cultural Industries Quarter is packed with heavy-hitting businesses like Workstation, Leadmill and Spearmint Rhino. Adding to this is, of course, Sheffield Doc/Fest, now recognised as one of the most important film festivals in the world, as well as the biggest documentary festival in Europe. Few other places can compete with that.


Our Economy is Booming 

As mentioned, the economy of Steel City is well and truly booming. Following a few consecutive years of posting growth figures above the UK average, innovative companies are setting up shop here, and job creation is on the rise. The financial sector, once barely even visible, has grown significantly as well, with over 7000 jobs in banking in the city – set to rise to 17000 by 2025. The financial sector is diversifying too, meaning that locals can make their income in anything from FinTech to options trading. Financial services now account for 13% of the Sheffield city region’s GDP, compared to almost nothing a decade ago, and dozens of big-name businesses and financial outfits are relocating or setting up outposts in this business-friendly city.


We Punch Well Above Our Weight Internationally

If the global music icons and world-famous cultural events aren’t enough to convince you that Sheffield truly has what it takes to be a global player, consider the fact that the city has received significant foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to record highs of billions of pounds from countries across the globe, from America to China, to Japan and Australia. Add to this the global companies such as Tata Steel, IBM, HSBC, Mondelez International (creator of Oreo cookies) and Capita, all of which now have a strong presence in the city, and it’s clear that Sheffield ain’t your average city. The world clearly sees plenty of potential in Sheffield, and there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.

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