News bulletin no 9 – New Year Edition

May I commence by wishing you all a happy 2012 but more importantly a better, indeed prosperous, 2012.  We have great challenges ahead, but behind every challenge is an opportunity!  Our role is to help spot such opportunities and to enable and facilitate their realization wherever we can.

Worcestershire LEP Board Meeting

The LEP Board met at AMS Redditch offices on Thursday 5th January.  It endorsed its support for a number of County Council and other initiatives relating to energy efficiency, transportation and broadband.  It also received a presentation from Clare Mitchell on the joint LEP/WCC ‘Open for Business’ survey which has received a good response from residents and business, and confirms the prime conditions for economic growth in Worcestershire as being availability of key development land, inward investment and discounted business rates.  The Board also discussed and agreed a format for the LEP Conference on Feb 23rd and the Board training day.  Reports on the Growing Places Fund and other funds were received and considered.

2012 Olympics Business Opportunities Event

Nearly 150 businesses attended this LEP organized event at Sixways on Tuesday 10th January.  Speakers attended from the London 2012 Business Network, Visit Worcester, Visit Worcestershire, Commercial Doctor, Finditinworcestershire and UKTI, and business leaders were shown how to access information and to capitalize on the £billions of contract opportunities that remain, not only on the 2012 Legacy, but on future events including 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, 2016 Olympics in Brazil and so on.  So far 31 Worcestershire companies have won contracts at the 2012 Games.

BIS Reception, IOD London

Also on Wednesday together with 20 other LEP Chairs (out of 38) and over 100 ‘captains of industry’, City bosses and senior Government officers, I attended this annual networking event.  During the evening I had one to one conversations with both Vince Cable and Mark Prisk during which I lobbied for Worcestershire’s cause and made sure they knew what the LEP has achieved and its priorities ahead.  Mark Prisk told me he had worn his Warriors shirt (presented to him at Stourport) several times – but he still supports Saracens!

Getting to the Heart of Horticulture

This excellent conference and workshop last Friday, organized by Wychavon DC and held in Pershore, provided the opportunity to explain the LEP and its purpose and priorities to a wide range of people in the food and horticulture sector across the county and beyond.  Alongside other interesting contributions, my purpose was to demonstrate the relevance of the LEP and its commitment to the sector.  It was also pertinent to show our commitment to green energy across the rural areas, and the recently approved AD Plant near Fladbury provided a first rate example of how to reduce energy costs in a sustainable way.

Growing Places Fund

A first stage review of the 11 applications for funding has been carried out and the more detailed interview assessment of the stronger runners starts on Wednesday 18th January.  We are very optimistic that we will have the right projects to go forward for final approval and that the funding can be applied effectively to ensure projects are developed and delivered in the next year or two.

LEP Offices and Secretariat

The new LEP office will be open for business from next Monday, 23rd January, within the premises of CMCA on Shire Business Park, Worcester and we are most grateful to CMCA for their generosity in providing us with an independent home.  New staff have been appointed and will be joining Gary Woodman in the Secretariat, being Claire Bridges as Operations Manager and Stephanie Hudson as Executive Assistant.  Details of new address, telephone and email will be issued to you all shortly.

LEP Business Conference

The Conference is confirmed for Thursday 23rd February (am) at Sixways.  Full details will be available shortly so please reserve the date in your diaries.

Future Events and Dates

Mon 23rd Jan – All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on local growth, LEPs and Enterprise Zones – HoC

Wed 25th Jan – Wychavon Business Rates Consultation Meeting – Pershore

Wed 25th Jan – West Midlands LEP Chairs meeting – Birmingham

Fri 27th Jan – Redditch Business Leaders meeting with Karen Lumley MP – Abbey Hotel, Redditch

Fri 27th Jan – Redditch leaders meeting with JLR re supply chain – tba Redditch

Tues 31st Jan – LEP Chairs reception/workshop with HRH Prince of Wales – St James’s Palace

Wed 1st Feb – LEP Board, Business Board and Partners strategic planning evening meeting – Bosch HQ

Thurs 2nd Feb – LEP Board Strategy, Priorities and Programme event – Bosch HQ

Tues 14th Feb – Skills Funding Agency workshop – Birmingham

Fri 17th Feb – meeting West Midlands MEPs – Stourport