Rachel Laver, CEO Marches Local Enterprise Partnership
In such challenging circumstances, we were delighted that the Marches Growth Hub – the LEP’s business support arm – enjoyed its highest level of enquiries to date last year, showing that it has become an embedded business support resource which is both trusted and respected by the region’s business community.
With the reduction to funding for both the LEP and the growth hub we’ve had to restructure to make sure we can continue to deliver the maximum amount of support to businesses, and support regeneration.
And deliver we have.
We are pleased to see all the Local Growth Funds and Getting Building Funds successfully committed and look forward to continuing to work with the project applicants to deliver the outputs and outcomes over the coming years. I’d like to thank our amazing team of staff for their efforts through such a difficult period, including those who have left for new opportunities and experiences. We really couldn’t do it without you!
As the West Midlands LEP structure goes through a significant change, we will work hard to make sure the issues and challenges faced by businesses and communities outside the major urban centres continue to be heard – working with the LEP network and other LEPs with similar economies to ensure the needs of areas such as ours are never overlooked.
In the Marches we have some tremendous visitor assets which we need to work hard to promote. We want to increase visitor numbers as well as the amount of time people spend here. This will help visitors see what a wonderful place the Marches is to live, with vast amounts of open space, more affordable housing, new and developing high value business sectors such as cyber security, agritech and engineering and a growing further education sector.
We need to build on our strengths such as sustainable energy production and help unlock capacity on the grid, making the area more attractive to businesses. We will continue to drive the Net Zero agenda, supporting further some of the world leading businesses we’ve already got in the Marches, helping these to grow and create more high value jobs, helping to develop the supply chains and attract further investment.
We’ve been pleased to see the progress with the Marches Careers Hub and the number of enterprise advisers who we’ve been able to engage. Keeping and retaining young people is a key priority for the Marches, so it’s great to see businesspeople engaging with the next generation to showcase all the different career opportunities there are and perhaps break down some of this misconceptions about certain careers.
While the funding outlook remains uncertain, the LEP remains very committed to supporting the economic development of the area. We look forward to seeing the full benefits of the capital programmes realised over the next few years and helping to attract further investment, talent and businesses to the area by working with partners and key stakeholders to create the optimum conditions for growth.