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15 February, 2008
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flag.jpgThis morning I attended the programe launch of the Yorkshire & Humber European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) at Sheffield’s City Hall. Exciting stuff.

The speakers included Tom Riordan, Cheif Exec of Yorkshire Forward, Danuta Hubner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy and John Healey MP, Minister of State for Communities & Local Government.

In a nutshell, this means that Yorkshire Forward have £183 million to throw at local businesses to aid economic growth in the South Yorkshire Region. There was lots of talk about “sustainable growth”, “economic convergence”, “knowledge based industries” and “global supply networks”.

The aim of the project is to create or protect 46,000 job in South Yorkshire within the next 7 years, help establish 4,000 new businesses with the inclusion of cross-cutting themes of equality and diversity to ensure that older/younger people, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are considered fairly in the establishment and growth of new business in South Yorkshire. The word gender was also used, but in what context your guess is as good as mine, perhaps it’s to monitor how many women are getting involved in new projects.

Having sat through all the speeches and self congratulatory back patting and ego massaging from the main people responsible. I began to wonder just how much of this £183 million pounds would actually find itself into the pockets of the people it is supposed to help. Apart from some of the money being spent on adminstration of the programme, huge functions like the launch this morning, flights, cars and human resource costs, the money is there to help regenerate areas of South Yorkshire where traditional industries have declined or ceased altogether and to attract new organisations to invest in relocating into the region to bring jobs and new wealth to hitherto desolated areas.

Who will actually benefit or get rich out of this project, apart from the guys who run it? Will it really make much of a difference? Only time will tell, I’ll update you in 2013 when the project comes to an end!

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