Introduction

Welcome to the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership’s 2022 annual report. 

It has, by any measure, been a remarkable year. 

We’ve witnessed unprecedented political turmoil at home, the end of not one but two Prime Ministers, the horror of an unprovoked war in Ukraine, energy and cost of living crises which show no sign of ending and the death of a much-loved and respected monarch. 

For business, the fallout from a year of soaring energy costs, ever-growing inflation, political instability, recruitment challenges and market turbulence has been substantial. 

The political turbulence has also impacted the Marches LEP. The Government spent much of the last year reviewing the future of all LEPs and after a series of delays finally announced the Marches LEP would continue in its role for the time being at least. 

Against this uncertain backdrop, the LEP has continued to deliver outstanding results for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. 

The past year has seen the reopening of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings – the grandfather of all skyscrapers and a remarkable testament to the rich heritage of innovation our region boasts. 

Work is under way on the transformation of Hereford city centre, Shrewsbury’s Pride Hill and the creation of stronger communities in Telford. The first businesses have moved onto Newport’s Ni.PARK business park and the first students have started their courses at the hugely-exciting NMITE campus in Hereford. 

For all these projects, funding from the LEP has played an essential part in making them a reality.  

The Marches LEP also launched its £4million Marches Energy Fund this year to help the drive to Net Zero and boost the region’s energy security. We are delighted to have given the go ahead to three separate projects which will together help businesses save energy, cut emissions and promote the uptake of sustainable power. 

The Marches Careers Hub has started its vitally-important role in bridging the gap between business and education, and the Marches Growth Hub – our business support arm – has continued to offer unrivalled support and advice. 

All this would not have been possible but for the Marches LEP. The unique way we operate – building partnerships between the business community, public sector and academia – means we can bring people and organisations together for the good of all our communities in a way no other organisation can. 

You can read the details of this work – and much more – throughout this report. And as you do, it’s worth bearing in mind that all the exceptionally talented people who make up our board give their time on a voluntary basis. They ask for nothing in exchange for their expertise, understanding, commitment and passion other than that all our partners come together to make this region the best it can be. 

With that in mind, I would appeal to the new Government to offer real clarity on the future of the LEP and ensure that the goodwill of these remarkable people – and the LEP staff who support them – is never taken for granted and that their desire to make a real difference across the region is truly recognised. 

The coming 12 months are likely to be as economically tough as any in recent memory for businesses and families. 

The LEP stands ready to do everything in its power to help guide the region through the challenges ahead – as it has since it was established more than a decade ago. 

In a world of turmoil, our determination to serve all our communities remains steadfast. 

The Year in Review

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