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Economic growth is our single purpose, SEMLEP tells conference
THE ORGANISATION charged with delivering economic growth in Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands region has unveiled its plans for the next 12 months.
South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership chair Dr Ann Limb (pictured) presented the group’s business plan for the next 12 months to an audience of more than 200 businesspeople at the BIG Conference held at stadiumMK.
SEMLEP has identified six key sectors to lead the sub-region - which also includes Bedfordshire and parts of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire - back to prosperity. They include automotive, high-precision engineering, the visitor economy and logistics.
SEMLEP comprises 11 local authorities within its geographical area, as well as representatives form business, education and the voluntary sector. The plan Getting Down to Business is the result of presentations earlier this year in each of the 11 areas.
Dr Limb said: “Growth should not be constrained by political boundaries. Our view that SEMLEP’s sphere of operation, determined by functional economic geography was consistently affirmed by discussions with businesses.”
The feedback from the business community had led to SEMLEP focusing on five innovation strategies to deliver growth.
“Success will only be achieved through strong local collective leadership and accountability and I am confident that we have this,” Dr Limb told her audience. “I am also excited by the aspiration for innovation which I encounter across the area.”
The SEMLEP board has identified the five areas on which it will concentrate over the next 12 months:
- Funding localism by pooling the available funding streams;
- Taking forward the leading growth towns within the area;
- Developing good procurement practices so smaller businesses can tender for public sector contracts;
- Developing skills in line with the needs of local business;
- Collective working with neighbouring LEPs on major infrastructure projects, particularly on transport.
Dr Limb said: “The plan is ambitious but we have a single purpose: growth. There is a lot to do and huge collective will, energy and drive to succeed.”
The progress already made by SEMLEP was acknowledged by Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise. Speaking via videolink, he backed SEMLEP’s ambition to create new jobs at a rate of one per cent above the national average.
“Its success will ensure that your area keeps its competitive edge,” Mr Prisk said.
SEMLEP is one of 39 local enterprise partnerships created by the government to bring a more local focus to economic growth.
Philip Cox, director at the Department of Communities and Local Government, said: “We are putting power into local growth agendas so you can take forward the issues that matter locally.”