Marches LEP driving economic agenda
An ambitious programme of activity to help drive forward the region’s economy and build a sustainable future has been unveiled by The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.
The LEP and its business support arm, the Marches Growth Hub, work across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to deliver growth, prosperity and business support.
Chief executive Rachel Laver said the LEP was now taking the lead on a series of far-reaching initiatives which would bring huge added value across the area.
- A comprehensive land use study to identify how much of the Marches is farmed, how much is woodland and how much is unmanaged privately owned land. The study – by award-winning environmental consultancy TACP – will identify opportunities for the Marches to become a leading region for carbon offsetting and its potential to be a major exporter of sustainable energy by maximising use of the land in the region and showing landowners worked up examples of costs and benefits of different land uses.
- A Marches wide Local Area Energy Plan to build on work developing a flexible, reliable and secure energy generation and supply system which is fit for the future and underpins the move to a net zero economy. The plan will build on the LEP’s Marches Energy Strategy and demonstrate the LEP’s commitment to low carbon, building on the support already provided to initiatives such as the Low Carbon Technology centre in Herefordshire which will help deliver much needed green skills,
- Awarding the first funding through the Marches Energy Grant scheme, which offers free advice, energy assessments and grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures to SMEs from all sectors in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. The scheme offers grants of up to £20,000 and builds on the success of previous programmes such as the Marches Renewable Energy (MarRE) fund and the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) grant scheme.
- Unrivalled business support across the Marches region through the LEP’s Marches Growth Hub. The hub has built a reputation for being the first point of contact for access to business advice, support, expertise and finance, working with tens of thousands of businesses since its launch.
- Bringing together finance experts to help ensure businesses can access the funding they need to thrive and grow. The Marches LEP and Marches Growth Hub is co-sponsoring an event at Skylon Park in Hereford on June 21 to promote the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and increasing applications from Marches businesses. The event will be hosted by Tracy Sherratt, UK Network Manager for the West Midlands at British Business Bank, where she will be joined by Rachel Laver and MEIF fund managers Victoria Copestake at First Enterprise and Surjit Kooner Investment Manager at Midven.
Rachel said: “This is just a snapshot of the LEP and Growth Hub in action, working to create a region which is a great place to live, environmentally sustainable and has a thriving business base.
“We have recently hosted officials from the Government, strategic transport agency Midlands Connect and our three local authorities to highlight the need for investment across our transport infrastructure, and to ensure we don’t lose out to urban areas.
“We have appointed leading consultancy Aecom to help develop a prioritised list of strategic transport projects and create the evidence base to drive our case.
“And the Marches Careers Hub continues its work to transform careers education across the region by linking education with business and helping secondary schools and colleges achieve world class careers guidance.
“The LEP has a clear agenda to work with our partners in the three local authorities, with our education and skills providers and with the business community to help the region meet its ambition to become a high-skilled, high value economy which is a great place to live and work.
“These schemes are concrete proof of the value the LEP continues to add to the Marches by working with our partners for the greater good of the whole region.”