The idea for a Sheffield focussed business exhibition came about out of frustration that as a city we always seem to be behind the curve when it comes to promoting ourselves to ourselves.

We’re all familiar with that old Little Mesters psyche that runs through the heart and soul of every true and adopted Sheffielder – all for one, and each man for himself (thanks to Blackadder for that line). We like keeping our head down and just getting on with things, but sometimes we need to shout out just how fabulous the city and it’s business community is.

It’s all very well for those brilliant and well known local companies – they are big and ugly enough to look after themselves and get their sales and PR teams out there to promote their business. However, there are a lot of other firms that don’t have the time, or sometimes the cash, to make a splash. We wanted something that works for them too. Size shouldn’t be a barrier to playing a part in the local business community.

We’ve sunk gallons of coffee putting the world to rights in coffee shops and board rooms around the city, but after a while it was obvious that we’d better just do something about it. Sheffex was born! The people behind it are Andrew and Mark McCormick, as well as myself.

We decided to make it easy for anyone to get involved so it had to be cheap – really cheap. Not more than a grand to exhibit was the message that came back from the people we spoke to. Free entry for visitors would make sure as many people as possible attend.

Make it independant was the other thing that we picked up on. So we’ve done it without asking for support from any of the local councils or other agencies. It’s not that we don’t want them to get involved, it’s just that businesses want it to be unreliant on them and the vagaries of public funding.

What else? Have it in a central location with easy parking. That’s Ponds Forge then – a huge hall in the city centre with a big car park right underneath, access straight off the Sheffield Parkway, and a tram stop just outside.

A few things are still in the planning stage and will be announced over the coming weeks, such as the networking area, and some interesting talks given by experts on a number of business focussed topics. We’re also hoping to have a way that some of our local charities and social enterprises can take part.

We’d really like your help in spreading the word. Please share the www.sheffex.com link and tell the people you meet about the show.

There you have it then, Sheffex from the inside out, though I’d still love to hear any ideas you might have to make it a better event. I hope that you’ll register today and look forward to meeting you on 2nd June.

All the best, Tony Carroll.