The business community across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin has much to be proud of.
The area – and the wider Marches region – has an excellent track record of innovation, growth and creating prosperity. We have a thriving business sector which, in turn, feeds into a network of vibrant and confident communities which make this area such a pleasure to live and work in.
But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and assume that past success is a guarantee of more growth in the years to come. As the world changes at an ever-faster pace, so do the opportunities and challenges which come with such change.
That is why it is so important that all businesses – regardless of shape, size or sector – get involved with the comprehensive consultation the Marches LEP has launched over the renewal of its new Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).
This roadmap will help us analyse the Marches economy as it stands and pinpoint the key areas which will help the region sustain and develop growth for years to come.
And that is why we are putting the business community – all of you – right at the heart of the work we are doing to refresh our SEP and also develop a new Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) to underpin it.
The LIS will identify key growth opportunity sectors and then identify the challenges and opportunities businesses in those sectors face.
That way we can develop a strategy for growth which is based on hard and fast evidence from the people who know best – business leaders like you.
We have already staged a series of meetings with business groups to start taking soundings – but want to hear from even more of you. That’s why we’ve launched an online survey which everyone can complete to help give us the broadest possible picture of business life in the region.
The survey can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/xXYBy6xCdR7KHxJe2
By taking just a few minutes to fill it in, you will help us identify all those barriers to growth which currently exist, the opportunities for growth you foresee in the coming years and what we can do to help you realise your ambitions.
By fully understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our current economy we can work in partnership with our local authorities, Government and our businesses to remove obstacles and target funding at the areas where it is most needed and where the greatest opportunities lie.
As a LEP, we’ve already helped attract £105 million of Government funding to this region, but we are determined to do even more to ensure that business can thrive and grow in the years to come.
That’s also the reason we are actively seeking more private-sector representation on our board – and those of the three regional business boards run under our auspices. To represent our community fully we need to reflect it as widely as possible.
To this end we will be going out for recruitment in September seeking private sector owners/managers and female Board members to ensure we have a truly representative mix of business leadership in the area.
Of course, we are not working alone. We constantly liaise with fellow LEPs around the country to make sure we benefit from an even broader perspective and can grasp the opportunities that working across boundaries so often presents.
And both myself and the Marches LEP director Gill Hamer are playing important roles in the current national review of LEPs to ensure our region is working as effectively as possible with national Government and other strategic partners to deliver outstanding value for money.
As I said, we have much to be proud of as a business community. But by all contributing to this hugely important process, we are sure to have still more to celebrate in the years to come.