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Calm Before the Storm?

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Britain in today’s economic climate resembles an early explorer - cold, wet and probably frightened, battling through stormy seas and not knowing what is over the horizon or even what the weather will bring next.

Aerial view of hurricanesThe general consensus is inconsistent to say the least - there may be another downturn to come or, then again, there may not.

Yet in these turbulent waters there are areas of calm seas when uplifting news appears.

Gareth Owen Commercial Property partner at Yorkshire law firm Keeble Hawson LLP, spotted such in an article penned by Jonathan Moules, Enterprise Correspondent of the Financial Times earlier this month.

Headlined “Sunderland is fastest growing city” it may not seem of great relevance to South Yorkshire but reading on we discover although “Sunderland is the country’s start-up boom town” with the largest increase in new businesses in the UK, according to research by Royal Mail the next fastest growing location was Rotherham that recorded 148 new business start-ups in the last six months representing a growth rate of 1.9%.

The results suggest a huge sea change with more new companies being formed which is hugely different to the situation 18 months ago when the number of new business start ups was declining.

Gareth, who sits on Rotherham Enterprise Board and who also supplies free legal advice clinics to new businesses on behalf of Rotherham Investment and Development Office, welcomes this as evidence of an improvement in the local economy and, critically, an improvement in the confidence of local entrepreneurs
Comments Gareth “This is also a welcome return for the extremely hard work put in by local authorities in South Yorkshire in supporting and providing practical assistance and encouragement fledgling businesses. These may be small enterprises at the moment but the potential is there for them to grow and some may well turn out to be successful and profitable businesses employing lots of people.”

The research done by Royal Mail showed that more than 39,000 businesses were created across the UK from March to September 2010 and proclaimed that this was a 13 per cent increase on the number of start-ups in the previous six months.

Gareth sounds a note of caution, however:

“One of the problems that we at Rotherham Enterprise Board have experienced is the lack of reliable statistics on the number of new business start ups. Royal Mail is only one of several organisations that tracks start-up activity, and each produces slightly different conclusions. Banks, for example, have recorded much larger increases in start-ups by measuring the number of new business banking accounts opened. It must also be borne in mind that much of this data is historic and, far from reflecting what is actually happening now, may only tells us what was happening six months ago.”

“Based on like for like data, however, there is definitely an upward trend in the number of new business formations and this is continuing today. Clearly the recession has acted as a spur to start-up activity. This may be because there is no alternative in the market place, but this also represents a very welcome increase in entrepreneurial attitude in South Yorkshire which is critical to its future development and standard of living”.

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