Update from Worcestershire LEP Chief Executive, Gary Woodman: February 2017

From the completion of Growth Deal projects to Ministerial visits, January has highlighted some of the fantastic progress we are making in the county.

During January we welcomed the business Minister, Margot James MP, to the county as part of a discussion with local companies and again a week later to officially open one of our Growth Deal projects, the North Worcestershire Engineering Centre of Excellence. The opening took place on the day Government announced its new Industrial Strategy, and as skills is outlined as one of the Strategy’s ‘10 pillars’, it was great to be opening an educational facility that will support the creation of 200 apprenticeships over the next 4 years. On top of this, Worcestershire LEP has also recently invested in Heart of Worcestershire College’s new Special Educational Needs facilities and I am pleased to say that construction has now started.

Our Strategic Economic Plan for local growth in Worcestershire is closely aligned with Government’s Industrial Strategy and during January we have seen progress in a number of areas which are central to Government’s strategy for increased prosperity and economic growth. In terms of upgrading our local infrastructure, it was great hear that one of our Growth Deal investments, Worcestershire Parkway Station, has been given approval from the Department for Transport. We have also welcomed over 70 local partners at our recent World Class Worcestershire investment event, an important step towards encouraging more trade and inward investment. I would recommend all business to take a look at the Industrial Strategy and to provide feedback on the plans at the earliest opportunity.

Finally, a number of European funding grants remain available for local businesses and a number more are set to be announced during 2017 . Government has recently published funding handbooks for companies that specialise in Business Development, Food Processing and Rural Tourism and how they could be eligible for a Growth Programme grant. For further information on the various European Funds available locally and for expert advice that is tailored to your business plan, I would urge all local companies to register for the Pie and Pint workshops, with one week remaining to register for the first event.

As highlighted in the latest Business Viewpoint Survey, there are many reasons for Worcestershire’s business community to feel optimistic about the year ahead and we look forward to many more exciting developments throughout 2017.