Last month I was pleased to announce that the latest research has shown that Worcestershire had the third highest growth in prosperity out of all 39 LEP areas in recent years. It was also great to see that the statistics highlighted Worcestershire as having the greatest growth in workforce skills during that period, measured in terms of the number of people in higher level occupations and the quality of educational attainment.
Following the vote last month that saw the UK vote to leave the EU, we are focused on understanding the implications for our local businesses and ensuring appropriate business support continues to be in place to keep up the momentum for economic growth and job creation. We remain committed to creating a connected, creative and dynamic economy and will deliver the programmes we have funding for as well as work to secure additional investment.
We are working with Government to understand what the vote to leave means for the future of the EU funding programme and specifically the money allocated to Worcestershire. We do, however, currently have an open funding call primarily focused on leadership and management training in small and medium–sized enterprises and I would encourage interested parties to apply before 11 July with more detail in this newsletter.
We also continue to focus on delivering the Growth Deal Programmes which total £54.2m of investment to support the long term prosperity of the County. Great progress is being made for all programmes and recent developments include the fact that work has started to extend the Superfast Worcestershire Broadband deployment so that 95% of premises can access superfast broadband by Autumn 2017 and that the improvement works to Pershore Lane are now complete which provide access to Worcester Six. This site, with unrivalled transport links, will bring over 5000 new jobs to the County and further good news is that the first speculative units on this site received planning consent last week.
Finally, I would like to encourage you to continue to enter awards and receive accolades for the great work you are doing in the County. This newsletter includes a number of award winners, including those at the prestigious Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber Awards 2016, as well as opportunities to enter others and I would urge you to do so.