Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO
The undercurrents of the pandemic continue to swirl about us. Earlier this month, we released our latest Business Bulletin, which brings together key data and intelligence from a range of business organisations representing over 25,000 businesses across the Heart of the South West. The picture emerging is one I would still describe as cautiously optimistic, with increasingly strong levels of recovery but some real challenges and even labour shortages, particularly in the care, hospitality, farming and leisure sectors. This has been exacerbated by a combination of factors, including reports that some on longer term furlough are opting to leave these sectors altogether.
The UK Hospitality Industry has produced a 12 Point Recovery Plan to encourage more people into hospitality as a career choice rather than just a stop gap and the SW Tourism Partnership Group will be supporting this plan. Against this more positive sentiment, infection levels are rising again, particularly amongst young people, though hospitalisations currently remain low and hopefully with the vaccine programme continuing its rapid progress, the next Government announcement on July 12th will confirm the ending of restrictions on July 19th. However, with this will be less support and it may only be then that we start to see the true economic impact.
Housing, and particularly affordable housing, also remains a critical issue in attracting workers to our area. Reports show that competition for rental properties is extremely high and house prices are continuing to rise, which means that people keen to come to the South West for work may be unable to locate here. High house prices and the challenges of the rental sector are key barriers to employment.
The LEP will invest over £50m in capital investment this year – much of it on digital transformation – and we will continue to target the challenges and opportunities in our area, most recently with the release of our new Growing Places loan fund, which is now seeking applications for up to £800k of capital expenditure. You can read more about this below. We’ve also been pleased to support applications from partners across our area for the Community Renewal and Levelling Up Funds and hope to hear more on these in the next few weeks.
Applications open for LEP's £800k Growing Places fund
Heart of the South West LEP have launched an £800k loan fund to help businesses in the region deliver meaningful projects that support the transformational opportunities set out in the LEP’s Build Back Better plan.
Applicants are encouraged to maximise impact and deliverability through larger projects and the LEP is expecting to support one or two projects from this fund, with a minimum Growing Places loan size of £250,000.
A short Expression of Interest should be submitted by 11th July 2021.FIND OUT MORE HERE
LEP's £900k inward investment fund now open for second round
The LEP’s £900k ERDF Inward Investment Support Grant Scheme is now open for a second round of applications.
The fund, designed to boost economic recovery and create new jobs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, offers grants of between £25k-£150k, which require match funding, to foreign-owned businesses based in the region who are looking to grow.
Businesses have until Sept 10th to apply.FIND OUT MORE HERE
Clean Maritime summit sets out plan for net zero ocean economy in the South West
The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Robert Courts MP, opened the recent Clean Maritime Summit 2021 in Plymouth by highlighting existing innovations and initiatives that are enabling the shift to cleaner ports, harbours and vessels.
The summit also identified the current and future challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and identified how these might be addressed to achieve the greatest possible benefit for both the economy and the environment.
The summit was organised by Maritime UK South West and hosted at the University of Plymouth’s Marine Station.READ MORE
Partners mark progress on A382 improvements
A ceremony has been held to mark progress on vital infrastructure to support economic growth on the outskirts of Newton Abbot.
The scheme, which will unlock the development of employment land and 2,500 homes, is being funded by the Department for Transport, Devon County Council, HotSW LEP and Teignbridge District Council.
Devon County Council Chairman Councillor Jeff Trail carried out a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of the first phase of improvements to the A382, which opened last month.
Teignbridge District Council Chairman Councillor Colin Parker also undertook a turf cutting at the Houghton Barton Link Road which is currently being developed to provide a new connection between the A382 and the A383.READ MORE
LEP publishes Spring Business Bulletin
The Spring Business Bulletin published by HotSW LEP shows that business confidence levels are significantly improving and there has been modest growth in recent months, with unemployment also falling. However, there are still considerable challenges for particular places, sectors and groups.
Key data and intelligence are brought together in the bulletin from a range of leading business organisations representing over 25,000 businesses in the Heart of the South West area – approximately a third of the total number of businesses based here.READ THE FULL BUSINESS BULLETIN HERE
LEP bid for STEP Fusion test reactor progresses to next stage
In December 2020, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) called for nominations for a site for their STEP fusion test reactor. This process asked for expressions of interest in the form of nominations of land.
A nomination was submitted by HotSW LEP, developed in partnership with the local authorities, and working with key partners including landowners, skills and training providers, local colleges and universities. We are delighted to announce that the Somerset site has progressed to the next stage in the process.
The STEP demonstrator provides a huge opportunity for Somerset to capitalise on the county’s prominent position in nuclear and would enable a lasting legacy from the investment made in the Hinkley Point C project. It would build upon the nuclear eco-system that we have created of skills, research and development, supply chain excellence and infrastructure.READ MORE HERE
Export Academy events to help SW businesses sell around the world
The Export Academy run by the Department for International Trade is running new dates for its series of export events until the end of September.
Taking part is free, and you’ll learn directly from experts in international trade who are on hand to provide support across a range of sectors and businesses, from selling children’s clothes to Spain, to providing PR services for clients in the US.
The programme is designed for owners and senior managers of businesses with a turnover of less than £2m, located in the South West. The events are free to sign up for. Participants will graduate from the programme with a completed export plan.READ MORE HERE
Last chance to register for SW Social Mobility workshop 30th June
The South West Skills Advisory Panel are hosting an interactive workshop for employers, to explore ideas, share insights and tackle some of the challenges in developing an inclusive, diverse culture.
The event will begin with a keynote speech from Dr Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Social Mobility, and will be followed by a series of breakout-room discussions led by speakers who have experience in advancing the social mobility agenda locally.
The event is taking place this Weds 30th June from 1-3pm.REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP HERE
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