In an uncertain world there is one thing of which we can be absolutely sure.
The next 12 months will bring new challenges, new opportunities and a faster pace of change in the county’s workplaces than ever before.
The digital revolution sweeping across the economy makes that inevitable. With faster communication, increased connectivity and the adoption of ever-new technologies, our factories, offices and workplaces are changing like never before.
That is why the need to innovate is so vital to the success of our region’s economy.
At the Marches LEP – the business-led organisation charged with driving forward the region’s economic growth – we have placed supporting innovation firmly at the top of our agenda. Our latest growth deal will see £21.9m invested in projects to nurture it and boost the region’s skills to sustain it.
You can see the fruits of some of this work starting to take shape at schemes such as the Flaxmill regeneration in Shrewsbury and the Newport Innovation and Enterprise Park.
We have invested £2.5m under our Investing in our Future Workforce project in colleges across the county to ensure we are equipped with the cutting-edge skills needed in the modern economy.
Our involvement with the Marches Construction Ready Partnership will see the development of a training hub for the construction industry in Telford – as well as two mobile units – to help train around 400 skilled construction workers to meet our housing and employment needs.
And we have been working to ensure the county’s infrastructure is future-proofed and meets the needs of modern business.
More than 215,000 businesses can now access high speed broadband and work is continuing across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to roll out this essential modern utility to still more companies.
Our work to refresh our Strategic Economic Plan has involved a huge conversation with our business community to ensure our priorities are aligned with their needs. Later this year we will deepen that commitment when we develop our Local Industrial Strategy to help cement the growth and prosperity the county has enjoyed.
But we are conscious that we cannot work alone. We have strengthened our wider relationships with key partners across the Midlands and into Mid Wales to ensure our work aligns with regional and national demands and helps sell the huge benefits of doing business in this wonderful county.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all businesses in the Marches the very best for 2019!
*This article from Graham featured in the Shropshire Star Business Supplement in January 2019. You can view the full supplement here.