The needs of business are at the heart of the regional growth agenda, where the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is striving to develop an economy which boosts skills and nurtures innovation.
That was the message from the private sector-led partnership to MPs from across the region who joined Business Minister Richard Harrington MP at the launch of the 2018 Marches LEP Annual Report at Westminster yesterday.
The report highlights progress to date on key infrastructure projects in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin as well as the next steps for the LEP as it embarks on consultation for its new Strategic Economic Plan.
Chairman of the Marches LEP Graham Wynn OBE, in the foreword to the report, said: “The last 12 months have seen the Marches LEP at the forefront of moves to ensure or region is a thriving, prosperous place to do business, which both draws on its rich heritage and has it sights firmly set on the opportunities the future will bring.
“Since our launch seven years ago, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to remove the major barriers to business growth which held back our economy in the past. As a private sector-led board, we have helped put the needs of business at the heart of the regional agenda, bringing nearly £195m of investment to the region, which will create thousands of homes and jobs.
“In the past 12 months we have secured a fresh growth deal which will see £21.9m invested in projects to boost the region’s skills and help nurture innovation. Our Marches Growth Hub has supported nearly 9,000 businesses, strengthening the region’s reputation as a national hot-spot for new business start-ups and ensuring entrepreneurs have the comprehensive support they need to build for a successful future.”
LEP Board members, including the chairs of the three area business boards and representatives of the LEP’s partners, Herefordshire Council, Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council, joined Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawcyznski, Ludlow MP Philip Dunne, North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, Telford MP Lucy Allan and North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin at the event.
MPs praised the LEP for the progress to date, with Business Minister Richard Harrington MP recognising the Marches’ track record for ensuring the business community was fairly represented within its board.
The event was also a chance for the LEP to discuss the next steps for the partnership as it embarks on wide consultation for its new Strategic Economic Plan and develops a Local Industrial Strategy.
Mr Wynn added: “We were very grateful to MPs for meeting with us on a busy day at the House of Commons and to Business Minister Richard Harrington MP for his offer to visit us here in the Marches.
“The launch of the Annual Report was a chance to update our Westminster-based representatives on progress but we don’t want to take our foot off the pedal, this is just the start of the conversation as we head into the next phase of our work.
“We’d urge all those working and living in the Marches to join this conversation as we work with our public sector partners and other organisations and businesses to boost our regional economy.”
You can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #marchesforgrowth.