The Sheffield city region must grasp the opportunity of international investment, says Martin McKervey of Nabarro, as the law firm reveals that the UK has topped a new index ranking 20 countries from all five major world regions for their attractiveness to institutional investors in infrastructure projects.
Ranking is based on several factors, including the tax environment, the availability of credit, the legal environment, the ease of ‘doing business’ and current activity in the infrastructure market, as well as the positioning of the country in terms of its environmental performance, ecological sustainability and innovation.
The Nabarro Infrastructure Index ranks the UK as the most attractive environment based on chart-topping sustainability and innovation (93 per cent), one of the highest scores for ‘ease of doing business’ (95 per cent), comparatively strong credit and currency (66 per cent) and a relatively high
degree of private-sector participation in infrastructure projects (74 per cent).
The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (SCR LEP) is presently tasked with preparing a Growth Plan that will be presented to the government later in the year. This will be a platform for direct funding from the government to the LEP.
While this is very important, it will not of itself provide the basis for economic growth that will also require and involve laying the right foundations, which will enable international businesses to understand the offering the city region provides and help inform the decisions those businesses make in terms of where they want to do and where they want to invest.
The public and private sectors are also embracing the opportunity on a collaborative basis. They recognise that the ability to drive forward infrastructure projects and to market the attractiveness of the city region as an investment location is critical for growth and jobs.
According to McKervey, partner at Nabarro and chair of the SCR LEP Property & Construction Sector Group, infrastructure must be addressed in an international context. ‘As the Nabarro Infrastructure Index shows, there is an appetite to invest in the UK, but the city region needs to work hard to attract that investment both nationally and increasingly internationally,’ he said. ‘Our challenge is to define and articulate the region’s USPs [unique selling points].’
McKervey added that while High Speed 2 (HS2) may bring benefits to Sheffield, this is a long-term project with some challenges. ‘We shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket,’ he explained. ‘The public and private sector need to think in terms of the need for investment in housing, transport, energy and renewables, building on the world-class facilities at the Advanced Manufacturing Park and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.’