Happy Christmas from Chair, Roger Marsh OBE

This note is sent to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year and to thank you all for your continued support over the past year. With your help we’ve been able to make a real difference to businesses and people in our City Region. I would like to share some of our collective achievements with you, which are too numerous for one Christmas message, so I have selected some of the highlights.

Our work has continued this year towards our vision for Leeds City Region to be recognised as a strong, successful economy where everyone can build great businesses, careers and lives. And as important as creating this economic prosperity, is ensuring everyone is able to contribute and benefit from it. Delivering inclusive growth in all we do, we’ve secured and developed projects, programmes and services that have made a huge difference to the people who live, work and do business here.

Led by business leaders, like yourselves, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has continued to support businesses to grow, meet the skills needs of employers and attract major investments into the region:

- The LEP Growth Service has had another successful year, ensuring the City Region is the best place in the UK to start, develop and grow businesses. This year saw the launch of two major new programmes of support, worth £16.4 million, namely Access Innovation and Strategic Business Growth. We have supported over 3,700 businesses to grow and awarded 430 capital grants with investment totalling over £180m. We’ve also been out and about across the region, delivering 12 pop-up business advice cafes have been held across the City Region, including in Hebden Bridge, Batley and Harehills with over 200 businesses attending and benefitting from over 650 individual advice sessions.

- Through our £1billion Local Growth Deal, we have delivered multi-million pound improvement projects across the region. From the opening of NORDEC in Bradford and Selby College to the Leeds city centre flood alleviation scheme.

- Investing in skills development and apprentices is key to transforming our economy and in the past year we have launched the UK’s first Delivery Agreements with the seven West Yorkshire colleges to realign the £56m Adult Education Budget (AEB) with the needs of the economy. We’ve also reached more than 11,000 young people with improved digital teaching through the ground-breaking #techgoals campaign.

- Attracting more inward investment to the region and enabling firms to take greater advantage of overseas trade opportunities has gone from strength to strength this year. Luxury fashion brand Burberry selected Leeds as the location for its new office this year, bringing with it 400 jobs and we are delighted with the news that the City Region’s international trade is now worth an estimated £9.75 billion.

- Attendance at the international property conference, MIPIM through private sector sponsorship, has generated more than 430 inward investment enquiries and this year alone has led to visits from major Chinese investors and representatives of globally recognised brands. This has all contributed to a 26% increase in Foreign Direct Investment in the region.

- Our work to deliver a fast reliable transport network that enable people to get to work and travel around the region on good quality buses, trains, roads and cycleway is ending another successful year. Through its ‘City Deal’ between West Yorkshire, York and central government, the Combined Authority established a £1bn-plus West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund to develop a programme of schemes that increase housing, employment and economic growth across the Leeds City Region. Transport schemes completed include the 1,000 space Temple Green Park and Ride, taking over 6,000 cars off the road and new Wakefield Eastern Relief Road.

- Our City Connect project won Transport Project of the Year at North of England Transport awards just last month and we have just secured an additional £17.5m of funding for new cycling infrastructure in Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Calderdale, Kirklees and York. We can now boast a staggering 400,000 trips along the Cycle Superhighway since opening in July 2016, with an average of 6,000 users a month. The City Connect team also provided grants to local schools and businesses to make them cycling and walking friendly.

And this is just to name a few….