There’s no place like home, and for me, for as long as I can remember, that home has felt like Sheffield.
Apart from my University years in Durham and Manchester, most of my adult life was spent in London, forging a career in Communications and Marketing, but Sheffield kept drawing me in, and somehow, in 2013, I made the move with my family back to a city that felt rather different from the post-industrial environment of my youth.
Today, Sheffield is a surprise to many who visit – and remains a secret to those who might stay away, believing a preconception of the city developed from watching the Full Monty or remembering grainy news reports from the miners’ strike in the early 1980s.
This city is buzzing. Cranes stretch into the sky above building sites that indicate huge investment and regeneration across the region. Old landmarks, like the Redgates building on The Moor and the Co-op building in Castlegate are on the verge of transformation. And free wifi is about to be rolled out to a sizeable chunk of the city centre. The Floow is one of many young companies making its home in a city which boasts around 60,000 students at its two world-class universities and a growing pool of talent who are choosing to make Sheffield their home.
This week, Sam Chapman and I took part in Vibrant Sheffield, a celebration of all the things that are exciting, varied and innovative about our city, and for the team from The Floow it was a very important reminder why Sheffield is where we have our UK headquarters, employing more than 100 people.
The event, which took place at the world-famous Crucible Theatre, focused on igniting connections between businesses, the third sector, our universities and policy makers. Sam and I were proud that The Floow was identified as a success story in Sheffield’s industrial renaissance, where we joined other digital innovators like Zoo Digital and Jaywing as well as some of the leaders in advanced manufacturing, like Boeing and McLaren, as lightning rods of the city’s commercial future.
We heard how music and beer are two of city’s most famous products, and although there’s a brewery for every 24,000 people (that’s 58 at the last count) we drink more of it than we export! We heard how a new summer Carnival will grace Norfolk Park in June, and how a spirit of entrepreneurship and social enterprise is fuelling a sustainable start-up culture.
One of the most insightful comments came from John Mothersole, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council who joined Sam Chapman on the closing panel of the event. He reflected that many times events like these try to encourage a city to become more like somewhere else, or emulate the success of a different place or region. Well, not this one. The 400+ people who attended the event this week delighting in Sheffield being absolutely itself, and are committed to working together to continue to contribute to the city’s growth and success whilst retaining its unique character.
Big thanks go to Paul Houghton, Donna Steel and the team from Grant Thornton who put together the event and invited us to take part. Long may The Floow play a part in contributing to Vibrant Sheffield!
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