Investment ready City Region � by Roger Marsh
Momentum continues to build around the development of the northern economic powerhouse and here at the heart of the North, we have witnessed a remarkable rise in optimism and confidence in the Leeds City Region economy.
The LEP has established a credible and robust Strategic Economic Plan, taking a long term view on how best to grow the regional economy and as a result, secured funding from government to help us begin delivering this ambition. This vote in confidence from government in the growth potential of the City Region economy has in turn resulted in a boost in the confidence of businesses that operate here and sends a strong message to potential investors.
I was pleased to meet with some of these international investors during last week’s MIPIM 2015. This international property forum is an opportunity for the Leeds City Region to speak to a global audience, showcasing our formidable strengths and investment opportunities and demonstrate the immense potential we have for future growth. The unveiling of £2.5billion of investment-ready opportunities was just one of the major announcements made during the week and heightened our already strong regional offer to the investor audience.
Development and investment opportunities in the region are at a three year high, aided by the strong upturn in the property market and this pipeline of investment ready opportunities. One of our “Big Six” investment opportunities launched at MIPIM is the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, a prime development location to the south east of Leeds city centre.
There has been a marked change of pace in the Enterprise Zone over the past six months with development work now underway across all four sites within the zone. Some 425,000 sq ft of development and employment space for modern manufacturing firms are currently under construction and over 4.5 million sq ft of development is in the pipeline. The combination of excellent transport connectivity, including direct motorway links and its position close to Leeds city centre, makes the our Enterprise Zone an outstanding business location which is already home to a number of businesses in the region’s key growth sectors.
It is particularly pleasing to see companies in the region taking advantage of the significant business benefits of locating in the enterprise zone, which include reduced business rates and grant support from the LEP. Specialist computer racking manufacturer Orion is the latest company to locate on site, investing £2.6 million in new purpose-built premises at Thornes Farm. The business has reached full capacity at its current site but has ambitious plans for future growth. To help them realise their ambition, the LEP has awarded the firm a £358,000 grant towards the cost of the relocation, new plant and machinery which is expected to create up to 30 new jobs for people in the region, including four apprenticeships. This is an excellent example of the public and private sector working together to stimulate the economy and achieve transformational growth and I am delighted that Orion is one of many businesses in the regions key growth sectors that have maximised the LEP business support available. With the launch of the LEPs Growth Service later this year and a further £18m available for business grants, I am confident we can continue this positive growth and attract more businesses on site. Ambitious firms see the Enterprise Zone as an ideal location to fulfil their growth potential and the more companies that locate in the zone, the greater the benefits for whole Leeds City Region.
We have 3 million people and 109,000 businesses that call the Leeds City Region home and their enterprising spirit continues to drive the region’s development at home and overseas. Demonstrating the strength of partnership working across the public and private sectors at events such as MIPIM is important if we are to continue to develop at the heart of the northern economic powerhouse, unlocking our full potential. We have the confidence in our ability and the ambition to work collaboratively with all partners in the public and private sectors to ensure we fully cement this City Region as the engine driving growth both in the north and in the country.