Leeds City Region LEP � Gearing up for the future
As someone who’s been active in the Leeds City Region business community for many years, I’ve always known that this region has the potential to be a significant economic player on a national stage. But it wasn’t until I became Chair of the LEP, that I really grasped the true extent of that potential.
The Leeds City Region is the largest economy outside of London with a £55bn economy. To put that in context, that’s an economy bigger than nine EU Countries.
We are well known as a leading financial hub but we are also the largest manufacturing centre anywhere in the country, with an inventive and diverse SME base that is exporting innovation around the world. We are home to eight Higher Education Institutions with more than a third of the research being world class and a further 10% world-leading.
Our manufacturing strengths have their roots in the Industrial Revolution, and today we are poised to lead the re-industrialisation of the UK economy. We are offering healthcare to a population that is living longer through medical technological breakthroughs by companies such as Surgical Innovations. We are in pole position globally to lead the renewable energy revolution through our expertise in carbon capture, bio renewables and energy generation. And without the gears and components made in this City Region by companies such as Borg Warner, David Brown Gearing and VTL, the world would literally grind to a halt.
But we are not realising our full potential – and we are not satisfied with this.
Our vision is to unlock the potential of the City Region, developing an economic powerhouse that will create jobs and prosperity.
We have already taken significant steps with very limited capacity. We have secured over £9m to help businesses invest in their workforce and create thousands of new opportunities for our young people. We have helped around 300 companies take the first steps towards exporting through our nationally regarded We are International campaign. And we have launched a £22m partnership programme to bring superfast broadband to rural parts of the region.
Having demonstrated our success with such modest resources, imagine what we could do if we secure hundreds of millions of new investment through our current bid to the government’s Local Growth Fund.
From 2015, we could have control over the funding and freedoms we need to make our vision a reality. This would give us the chance to transform our transport network so that our businesses can reach their customers and markets faster, and have access to a larger skilled workforce. With this funding we could do more to encourage innovation, export and inward investment to maximise growth opportunities for businesses and our key sectors. And we could capitalise on our major energy assets at Drax, Ferrybridge and Eggborough to develop a 21st Century energy infrastructure that helps our businesses become leaner and more resource-efficient.
The City Region economy is set to grow by £10bn over the next decade, but with additional freedoms and funding, we believe we can grow even faster.
The LEP has a key enabling role to play in shaping the future of business growth in the region, but we cannot do this alone.
We need to continue our efforts to develop a genuine partnership across the public and private sectors, creating a coalition of the willing, working together with the common goal of promoting our region and creating economic prosperity for all.
Developing a meaningful dialogue with more than 100,000 businesses across a City Region as diverse as ours is always going to be a challenge, but this is what we want to do.
We want to actively communicate with the regional business community and give businesses a meaningful voice both to shape growth opportunities here in the region and connect with the corridors of power.
We need to work together to show those in Whitehall the ambition of this region and demonstrate that 2014 marks the start – not just of the Tour de France – but of a new era of 'mission possible' for growth in our City Region.
As a region, we need to unite behind one key message - that we mean business, not only so we can realise our economic ambitions but so we play our part in boosting national economic growth and ensuring the UK competes on a global stage.
We want the business community to embark on this journey with us to create a thriving and prosperous Leeds City Region.
If you would like to contact the LEP, please email LCR@leedscityregion.gov.uk
Other key LEP highlights of 2013:
- Growing Places Fund - provided 7 loans totalling £16m, levering in £90m from the private sector. These projects should create over 1,800 construction jobs and nearly 500 long term jobs, contributing £96m GVA to the city region economy.
- Business Growth Programme - awarded £12.9m grant funding to 206 businesses, aiming to create almost 1,900 jobs.
- Set up eight Apprenticeship Hubs and two Apprentice Training Agencies to support SME’s take on apprentices with £4.6m City Deal funding.
- Over 1,000 additional 16-17 year olds have gone into work, further education or training as a result of the youth contract programme we have delivered.
- Five three one campaign supported 300 businesses
- Secured over £3m of funding for Green Deal Pilots in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York.
An edited version of this article appears in the Yorkshire Post business pages on 4 February 2014 as part of a monthly LEP update from the four Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnerships.