Embracing New Opportunities, Realising University City Aspirations and Reopening Doncaster Sheffield Airport Are All Top Priorities For Local Chamber in 2024
Doncaster Chamber is looking forward to a year of prosperity for our city and its business community, with the outlook for 2024 looking very bright provided that the right steps are taken to create the conditions for economic growth.
It is no secret that the past eighteen or so months have largely been defined by their persistent challenges and missed opportunities. In that space of time, Doncaster has had to reckon with the closure of its international airport (a valuable asset that has huge untapped potential), the near-miss of its campaign to be the home of Great British Railways (which would have brought its own benefits to the region), as well as assorted macroeconomic headwinds that are still exacting a heavy toll across the country.
Yet the local Chamber of Commerce is optimistic that there could now be light at the end of this tunnel and that the future could have many great things in store for our city. Indeed, the organisation has a number of ambitious but credible aims it hopes will be fulfilled by the end of this year, and is pledging to work tirelessly to ensure these are met or in-progress.
Outlining the Chamber’s vision, Chief Executive, Dan Fell, explained: “I believe that, after the disappointments of recent months, Doncaster is poised to stage a comeback in 2024 and we intend to be a big part of that resurgence.
“Our business community has suffered multiple knocks lately but, through characteristic Yorkshire grit and sheer resilience, they have capably weathered that storm. We are determined to make this year better for them, and for all of Doncaster’s residents, by righting the ship, finally capitalising on our city status, and embracing the exciting opportunities that are firmly within our grasp.
“Later on in 2024, we will be publishing a new Business Manifesto that sets out exactly how we want to achieve these goals but, in the meantime, a few clear priorities do stand out.
“First of all, we know that getting Doncaster Sheffield Airport reopened is a matter of tremendous importance for our members and for the region as a whole, and we are pleased to see that encouraging progress is being made here. If it were to reopen, DSA has the potential to generate thousands of jobs, around £1.5 billion in net economic benefits over the course of three decades and other strategic benefits, so it is imperative that we keep up the momentum here and that people and organisations work together to ensure this complex project does not fall apart over the last mile.
“Another issue that we cannot afford to overlook is our languishing city centre. There’s no disputing that this needs to be rejuvenated and — at our previous business conference, our Annual General Meeting and various other forums over the past year— Chamber members have repeatedly made it clear that it is a top priority for them. We will therefore be collaborating closely with Team Doncaster partners in 2024 to see what more can be done to make our city centre a thriving and flourishing place once again.
“Elsewhere, we will be looking at how to bring Doncaster’s University City aspirations to fruition — with a prospective campus here having a positive effect on our city centre — and identifying new opportunities for us to differentiate ourselves in fast-developing areas like Net-Zero, digital technology and, of course, Artificial Intelligence.
“Finally, we must ensure that Doncaster is pulling its weight in what increasingly feels like a joined-up South Yorkshire. With this latter point in mind, transformative projects that are important for the wider region, such as tram renewal, will be just as much on our radar as those with a DN postcode.
“If we can deliver upon each of these priorities, then I am confident that there could be a golden period ahead for Doncaster. Until then, we — and our strategic partners — certainly have a lot of homework to be getting on with.”
In addition to all of this, the Chamber has various other activities planned for 2024. Alongside returning flagship events (like the Doncaster Business Awards and the OD Live Careers Fair), this year will see the introduction of a brand-new Women in Business Conference as well as a Net-Zero Expo.
Meanwhile, the organisation will continue to focus on implementing the South Yorkshire Local Skills Improvement Plan and will also be publishing its own Business Manifesto. More information about this will be communicated in the near future.