|The Heart of the South West LEP held its conference and annual general meeting on 10 November at Somerset Cricket Club, and welcomed over 300 delegates from across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. Productivity was the theme of the day, is the key to prosperity in the 21st century economy.
Taunton MP Rebecca Pow opened the conference with a timely focus on how important it is that the south west play’s its role in contributing to the UK’s wealth in the face of ever-changing political and economic environment.
LEP Chair Steve Hindley gave an overview on the progress of the LEP since it first started bidding for funding, and now has a budget of nearly three quarters of a billion pounds. This funding is enabling the LEP to deliver the infrastructure and skills projects that will help the area realise its true potential as a successful business location.
Chief Executive Chris Garcia ran through the LEP’s achievements this year which have gathered momentum since many of the externally funded projects have become mobilised.
27 projects are now underway, 11 already completed and 19 more in the pipeline, and the evidence of these projects are taking shape across the area.
Delegates heard an update on the Heart of the South West Productivity Strategy in which all the councils in the HotSW area, the LEP, the two National Park Authorities and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups, are working in partnership.
Businesses and stakeholders are invited to make their responses to this draft strategy during the consultation period which is open until the end of this month.
In the afternoon session, the Growth Hub hosted workshops on key topics for businesses including General Data Protection Regulation, exporting, finance, digital and productivity.
Delegates included business leaders, public, education and third sector representatives and MPs.
All the presentations are available on the website, and the LEP is urging all businesses and stakeholders to engage with the LEP as its role increases in developing and nurturing the local economy.
The LEP holds regular forums that are open to businesses throughout the area to attend throughout the year, and conducts surveys and consultations on specific and general economic issues along with its partners.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: “Here in the Heart of the South West, we already have a bigger economy than Birmingham and the potential to grow at a faster rate than the UK average. Increasingly there’s a critical mass of success factors that are converging to make the south west a prime business location.
“We’re operating in a fast-moving political and economic environment, with many unknowns on the horizon – which could present many opportunities if we’re swift off the mark to harness them. There are also potential risks in a changing landscape that we may need to mitigate and manage.
“It’s more important now than ever that we work together as business leaders, local authorities, education establishments, social enterprises, politicians and communities as a common voice to champion our area.”
The major consultation that is underway now is the Productivity Strategy which aims to improve prosperity across the whole of the Heart of the South West, and feedback can be given at www.torbay.gov.uk/devolution by 14 December. Also, stakeholders are reminded that the Brexit Resilience and Opportunities survey is still open at: www.heartofswlep.co.uk/news/brexit-resilience-opportunities-group-survey
The annual conference and AGM was a snapshot of the immense work that is underway throughout the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and progress is reported upon regularly through the website where there are options to sign up to the monthly newsletter and social media at: www.heartofswlep.co.uk
Photos of speakers and general scenes from the event are available.
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