News bulletin no 12

March has not only witnessed some of the best Spring weather for decades, but it has been another period of significant activity and achievement within the Worcestershire LEP with several other initiatives commenced.  I am particularly grateful to Gary and the Secretariat for their considerable support that is now allowing us to make real progress in the LEP together with our Partners.  Such progress and planning is also due in no small amount to the arrival of Ahmed Goga as Head of Economic Development and Sustainable Planning in the County Council and I greatly welcome his vision and drive to make things happen.

Worcestershire World Trade Fair

I feel I must start with the most recent event first as it was a spectacular success.  All credit must go to Harriet Baldwin MP, her support team and the other Worcestershire MPs and MEPs who put the event together with the help of its hosts and sponsors, Worcester Bosch.  The event, held on Friday 30th March at Bosch attracted representatives from about 15 foreign embassies, including at least two Ambassadors, ranging from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to Chile, Russia, India and several Eastern European delegations.  Over 80 businesses attended to hear both Harriet and Peter Luff MP extol the assets and attractions of Worcestershire to inward investors and then have the opportunities to meet the various delegations also in respect of their export ambitions.  Watch this space for news of trade successes!

Business Board

Held its Board Meeting in Kidderminster on Wednesday 28th March when it received presentations on

  • a proposal to erect a landmark metal sculpture of a Worcestershire Pear Tree, of similar scale to the Angel of the North, alongside M5 motorway as a southern ‘gateway’ to the County.
  • The role and opportunities for the Third Sector in Worcestershire in respect to social enterprise and the social economy.
  • Ways in which the business community and the University of Worcester can work more closely together to mutual advantage.

The Business Board is reviewing its membership as vacancies occur and priorities change.  It is seeking to strengthen in some areas with new members, so shout if you are interested and can bring new skills.

Availability of Government Funds

In the last bulletin I reported on the Growing Places Fund awards and they are now each progressing through the due diligence process.  In the Chancellor’s Budget statement he also announced a further phase of such funding which means that with the unallocated sum from the first round, the Worcestershire LEP now has a further £2.4m to assist with opening up projects that are well advanced towards construction.  This note can be taken as an advanced call to all project promoters to contact the LEP office with their enquiries.  Meanwhile, Government has also announced a third round of funding under the Regional Growth Fund and again we urge companies to come forward with their plans for growth which may qualify for such support.  A workshop is being held on 4th April from 8am till 10am.  There are also other smaller funds available for specific sectors so – if in doubt, contact the LEP team.

Sub Groups and related activities

We are progressing with the developed of the LEP business plan:  In order to support this process we have held and are planning a number of workshops:

Transport Consultation Workshop was held on 23rd March – led by Gary Woodman.

Employment Skills workshops were held on 14th and 16th March – led by Ahmed Goga.

Planning & Development workshop is planned for w/c 7th May and the group is shortly meeting again with the South Worcestershire Development Plan team.

Investment group will hold a workshop w/c 14th May

Access to Finance group will hold a workshop w/c 21st May

A workshop on food growing and production will also be held in late April/early May

Currently we are carrying out a review of corporate governance and procedures within the LEP after our first year of operation, together with developing a 3 year business plan.

An initiative to identify the full pipeline of known and proposed job creation and housing projects across the whole county is also underway from which we will get a clear picture on known growth from which we can assess further future needs and therefore set ourselves some realistic and achievable targets.

Future Events and Dates

Monday 2nd April                  Meeting with Worcestershire Rural Hub at LEP office

Tuesday 3rd April                 Visit by Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to MHSP and meeting with LEP Board

Wednesday 4th April            Meeting with DEFRA representatives re grant and loan schemes

Wednesday 18th April         Shenstone Group event at Malvern Instruments

Thursday 19th April              National Apprenticeships event

Friday 20th April                    Redditch Business Leaders event – Redditch

Thursday 26th April              National LEP Network Conference – London

Friday 27th April    British Bankers Association event – Worcester Warriors