Our Quick Q&A with… feature has been launched to give an insight into the roles, responsibilities and opinions of Marches LEP Board members as they work on behalf of the region to drive economic growth and the creation of sustainable private-sector jobs. Second to take some questions is Telford Business Board Chairman and LEP Deputy Chair, Paul Hinkins.
Q: You’re the Chairman of the Telford Business Board – can you explain what this is and what its role is?
The Telford Business Board is comprised of 28 members predominantly from private sector businesses within the Telford area.
Its key aims are to listen to the needs of businesses throughout the Borough and understand the challenges that they face; to influence economic strategy and the skills agenda in order to support growth on a local, regional, national and international basis; and to bring together business leaders with representatives from universities, colleges, housing organisations and the voluntary sector so that their collective knowledge and expertise can help shape the business support offer delivered by Telford & Wrekin Council.
We work closely with various networks in the area including the HR Forum, Telford Business Partnership, Telford Tourism Partnership and the Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford to ensure that the challenges faced by local businesses are presented back to the Board of the Marches LEP.
Q: You’re also Deputy Chair of the Marches LEP – can you explain the relationship between the Business Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership?
Whilst it’s a private sector led organisation, the Marches LEP is also supported by the three local authorities that make up the region – Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – and the Leaders of each authority have a seat on the Marches LEP board. The Chair of each Business Board also has a seat on the LEP board and as it happens, myself and Mandy Thorn from Shropshire Business Board jointly hold the Deputy Chair role at the LEP, supporting Graham Wynn, the Chair, and Gill Hamer, The Marches LEP Director.
My role as Chairman of the Telford Business Board allows me to ensure that it both supports and influences the delivery of the Marches Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) by aligning itself to the SEP priorities.
Each of the Business Board Chairs has a unique connection to the businesses in their Local Authority area and so we’ve become a vital link in ensuring the LEP’s strategic priorities (supporting businesses; investment in physical infrastructure; skills investment; support for the low carbon economy; and social inclusion) are both understood and supported.
Q: The Marches Growth Hub recently launched and opened a centre in Telford – what link does the Business Board have to this?
The Marches Growth Hub Telford & Wrekin hub site is at the Telford Innovation Campus at Priorslee. It has been funded by Telford & Wrekin Council, in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, and The Marches LEP.
The Telford Business Board will be working in partnership with the business support and inward investment teams at the local Council and the University of Wolverhampton to deliver this vital new business resource. Our Sector Champions, in particular, will be made available to potential investors interested in the area so that the benefits of bringing a business to Telford can be better understood.
Q: Who exactly are these ‘sector champions’?
Quite literally, a number of Telford Business Board members have been identified as champions for the sectors in which their own businesses operate. Becoming one of our ‘sector champions’ essentially means that they take on an ambassadorial role and represent both Telford & Wrekin as well as the wider Marches region.
The sector champions set up sub groups that allow us to gain valuable insight and information from the heart of those industries. For example, we have a sub group for the environmental sector which includes representation from Ricoh and Denios; a professional services group that includes representation from chartered accountants; a group for advanced manufacturing which includes BAE Systems, Stadco and GKN; and also groups representing the digital media sector, the food and drink industry and the care sector.
The access that these sub groups give us to businesses across a wide range of sectors allows us to feed in to the LEP’s SEP priorities in a real and meaningful way.