State of the Region 2012: Enterprise zones backed by business

ENTERPRISE zones will help to generate economic growth across the Yorkshire region, business leaders have said.

More than two-thirds of respondents to TheBusinessDesk.com’s State of the Region survey 2012 believe the Government initiatives will bring positive benefits.

Businesses in enterprise zones, a number of which have been given the green light in Yorkshire, will benefit from reduced business rates which are handed to the local enterprise partnership in that area to spend on other projects.

However, the jury is still out amongst the business community on the impact of local enterprise partnerships – the vehicle introduced to help drive economic growth in the region following the demise of Yorkshire Forward.

Only 19% of respondents said LEPs had had a positive impact on the region’s business community. A fifth said they hadn’t and 60% said they didn’t know.

In other areas of the survey, the impact of public sector cuts are seen as the biggest challenge facing the region over the next 12 months – a view shared by respondents to our survey 12 months ago.

A lack of private investment was also seen as a major challenge. However, the vast majority of respondents (97%) still believe Yorkshire is a good place to do business.

Inward investment, access to finance and transport and infrastructure were all cited as areas that need to be addressed to drive further growth.

For more, and to read and download a full, detailed report of the findings, click here 

TheBusinessDesk.com’s State of the Region survey 2012, which has been completed by hundreds of business leaders, is supported by lead sponsor DLA Piper and also by PwC and the CBI.

The results give a comprehensive view of the business landscape across Yorkshire, the North West and West Midlands.

Jon Kenworthy, corporate partner at DLA Piper in Sheffield, said enterprise zones could play a “crucial role” in the the rebalancing of the economy.

Mr Kenworthy said: “Their introduction will provide significant opportunities for emerging businesses and sectors in Yorkshire, which in time will help to boost the local economy.

“Working alongside the enterprise zones, The LEPs provide a useful vehicle to support the region’s ambitions but are still very much in their infancy.

“As can perhaps be expected, there is a very high level of uncertainty in the business community over whether or not they have, or will have, a positive impact on the region’s business community.”

Mr Kenworthy said the LEPs that would have the most benefit would be those that have clear visions and are well advanced in their planning.

“A strategic approach needs to be cultivated to assist businesses in their growth aspirations.”

Roger Marsh, Leeds office senior partner and northern leader for government and public sector at PwC, said: “Private businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber feel that the region is a dynamic and supportive business environment – this is a positive endorsement for the region as a whole.

“Closing the regional prosperity gap is more difficult than ever for government, but the new enterprise zones are expected to have a positive impact on the region by potentially creating new opportunities for local businesses. They give us a great springboard for growth and wider regeneration across the region.”

Enterprise zones – Your views:

“There is plenty of entrepreneurial business in areas outside enterprise zones which need support and generally provide higher added value growth.”

“Creation of such zones creates artificial confidence which is just another problem to be faced down the line.”

“They are a step backwards from the successful RDAs. They will focus investment in smaller areas and probably at larger companies.

Like most of the government’s policies it is not thought through, concentrates more on ideology than practicality and will probably only benefit ‘consultancy’ companies. “

“They provide targeted investment in areas that can make the most from that investment but, as always, only time will tell as to whether they will lead to overall growth in the wider region.”

Tomorrow: The Economy

Comment: Yorkshire can defy the gloom