For many, 2016 turned out to be a strange year, politically and economically, nationally and locally but in terms of business growth and economic development, Doncaster has been highly successful.
It’s fair to say that in terms of new investment within the Sheffield City Region all eyes are focused on Doncaster. 2016 was truly transformational in terms of projects delivered and ones that are already making a real difference to the people of the Yorkshire region and beyond.
February saw the long awaited opening of the Great Yorkshire Way (FARRRS) as commonly known. A project long in the making and much anticipated, in our mind it has been the best funding ever spent in Doncaster and is proving to be truly transformational with direct access to Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the new iPort.
A few other highlights to mention:
- Doncaster Sheffield Airport continues to grow and is going from strength to strength. FlyBe have established themselves in a big way with flights to a number of European destinations including the cities of Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and Dusseldorf and WizzAir also opened up new routes to Bucharest and Sofia. The cargo operations are growing at a tremendous pace and the new ‘Aero Centre’ brand was launched.
- The Inland Port being built by Verdion started in 2016 and rapid progress has already been made with new tenants Amazon and Fellowes already operational and new builds under construction for a further Amazon unit and Ceva Logistics. Coupled with the announcements of Lidl and new speculative sheds being built next year we are already looking in excess of 1000 jobs being created on site. There is already a dedicated iPort recruitment and training academy open in Rossington which will ensure businesses obtain the right support with their recruitment needs and that local people will get first chance at gaining suitable employment at iPort. We anticipate this will be very busy in the coming months.
- New housing is being developed on the Harworth Estates Rossington Colliery site and the link road through to the village is now open bringing much needed improvements for existing residents of Rossington.
So what else happened in 2016?
- Amazon opened two new facilities
- Our vibrant rail sector and rail business is expanding at a rapid rate with new investment from Volker Rail, Wabtec, Amey Rail, Hitachi Rail and many more. The National College for High Speed Rail is now well under way and looks very impressive situated at Lakeside. Opening is scheduled for September 2017.
- St Modwen Developments have shown confidence in Doncaster by building speculative industrial units on Wheatley Hall Road and new retail units on Crompton Retail Park, Wheatley hall Road with the Waterdale Shopping Centre seeing a complete rebrand (now The Village) and new retail units currently being constructed.
- Henry Boot have seen unprecedented demand for their new industrial units at Capitol Park in Thorne, a town which has also seen new major investment from Iqbal Poultry and Lidl with further retail investment due in 2017
- Our Logistics sector continues to grow with Next having completed their large new facility in Armthorpe and both Victoria Plum and Price Express Transport establishing new distribution facilities in Balby.
- Doncaster’s visitor economy continues to grow with visitor numbers on the up and new investments from Mount Pleasant Hotel, Mercure Danum Hotel, Go Bounce, Potteric Carr Nature Reserve, Virgin Trains along with major refurbishments made to the Mansion House and the Corn Exchange.
- We were fortunate enough to also experience Tour de Yorkshire in 2016 which brought a record number of people out onto the streets of Doncaster and despite a blip in television coverage showed Doncaster in an extremely positive light, proving to the world that Doncaster is a town that can successfully host major national events.
One common theme running through all of the above highlights is that all these exciting developments have been either brought to Doncaster or supported in some way by the Business Doncaster and Doncaster Tourism team.
As a team, 2016 saw a period of change but through it we managed to remain professional, focused and continually contributing in no small way to the growth of our local economy.
New members joined the team with the appointment of a new Destination Manager, a Retail investment Officer and Key Account and Business Growth Officer. They have settled in very well and are making major contributions to the work we do along with all our other professional and focused members of staff.
And there’s more…
We successfully commissioned and launched a Doncaster Place Marketing programme and fully supported the newly formed private sector led Doncaster Place Board and Ambassador programme which will make such a difference to the future promotion and awareness of Doncaster, regionally and nationally.
Organised and delivered another very successful Doncaster Business Month culminating in a record breaking Business Showcase which had the highest ever number of stand holders and visitors in attendance.
Held the second annual, highly acclaimed Doncaster Rail Conference which brought people from across the UK to the home of rail to learn about future developments in the industry and the impact it will have for Doncaster.
Continue to fully deliver on a Sheffield City Region Sector Growth Enhancement programme along with our partners in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley which has provided much needed help and business support to large and SME businesses across the borough.
Delivered and managed a Business Incentive scheme on behalf of Doncaster Council which has been successful in helping bring forward new investment and business growth in the town
Worked closely with our partners, Doncaster Chamber, and others in organising a fact finding mission to Dalian, China to raise the profile of Doncaster and our business community to a new audience in one of China’s fastest growing provinces.
Carried out monthly familiarisation visits and regular property forums which were very well attended, enabling us to shout out about the new developments taking place and showcase Doncaster as a potential investment location for business
Organised and delivered another successful St Leger Festival Week of events before, during and after the St Leger race days, working collaboratively with Doncaster Racecourse, Right up our Street and Ladbrokes. This also incorporated the DN Weekend Arts Festival.
Delivered on another successful Dragon Boat event and hosted the 2016 British Jet Ski Championships, both at Lakeside which again saw a record number of entrants and impressive visitor numbers. The Dragon Boat event raised a record £15,000 with donations going to a number of selected charities.
Improved sales and continued our exceptional customer service when our very own Tourist information centre became finalists in the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Awards 2016. We very much look forward to being judged in the National Visit Britain Tourism Awards in 2017.
Whilst on the subject of Doncaster Tourism, 2016 wasn’t without its setbacks and sorrow when in late May our Tourism Manager, Colin Joy sadly passed away, unexpectedly at the age of 52. Colin was a unique well known character who did a great deal during his time in Doncaster to raise our profile and promote Doncaster as a great visitor destination. Colin was certainly a popular figure head for Doncaster Tourism and a great ambassador for the town and is sadly missed by everyone. However, we are continuing his good work in further developing our Tourism sector by promoting Doncaster via our Visit Doncaster website and other initiatives to raise the profile and help change long standing perceptions of Doncaster.
So…what’s for 2017?
2017 promises to be another great year for Doncaster:
- With new investment in our Town Centre.
- The launch of a new Business Doncaster website of which we are very proud and of which will focus on promoting Doncaster as a place to invest, do business, live and play.
- We already have a number of strong investment enquiries, which we hope in turn will create new jobs and wealth for the people of Doncaster.
- February will play host to a series of business events throughout the month, the main event being the 2017 Business Showcase, now in its 8th year and taking place at Doncaster Racecourse on 16 February.
- The team is focusing on a number of new initiatives to support new investment in all of our centres including retail growth and major events.
- Continuing with our business support offer, providing support and guidance to our large businesses, those businesses demonstrating growth potential and new start businesses wanting to compete in a difficult and challenging economic climate.
- Further develop our visitor economy and work closely with our visitor attractions in promoting Doncaster as a place to visit, stay and enjoy.
We hope you enjoyed reading this and would like to thank all our customers, clients, colleagues and partners for a tremendous 2016 and very much look forward to offer our continued support and help make 2017 an even better year.
We would like to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.