LEP launches annual review after ‘a year like no other’

Alun Rogers
X The Business Desk

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Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP) has published its 2020-2021 annual review following what it described as “a year like no other.”

Key points include the impact that the LEP has made upon the regional economy and business growth across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, bringing over £1bn of additional investment into Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as a result of its investments to date including over £335m of Government investment.

During the pandemic, the LEP has signposted over 10,000 SMEs to support streams through its communication campaigns, and around 5,000 of these businesses have also benefited from one-to-one support on international trading post-Brexit, via the LEP-funded Growth Hub.

It said 15,000 jobs and apprenticeships and over 6,000 new homes are set to be created as a result of LEP investments, supporting the development of a skilled workforce, quality housing offer and wider future prosperity for the region.

Significant projects in progress that are set to generate a wealth of opportunities for the region include the Centre for Health Innovation at Staffordshire University, which will see 1,230 sq m of new and improved learning floorspace; the i54 Western Extension and Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone which will help facilitate advanced manufacturing sector growth for the region; the Digital Skills Academy at South Staffordshire College which will help develop vital digital skills for the future of the workforce; the Keele Smart Energy Hub which support the region’s energy innovation efforts; and plans for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to become the UK’s first fully 5G-connected urban and rural area.

Alun Rogers, chair of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said: “Despite the challenges of the past year, the LEP has remained at the heart of the regional business community, helping to ensure that SMEs have not just survived but thrived throughout a year like no other.

“While we must continue to weather the storm of the pandemic and recovery beyond, we are proud of the innovative approaches that many businesses have demonstrated over the past year which have helped to modernise ways of working, and enable our economy to build back better.

“In order for businesses to move forward, the upcoming LEP review should provide clarity of support for businesses; meaningful alignment with Growth Hubs to negate any fragmentation of business support; and a clear role for LEPs within the Levelling Up White Paper.

“It’s a huge privilege to chair the LEP, and I look forward to another year of progress across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as we reshape our economy for the future.”

Anne Boyd, CEO of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said: “Having recently joined the LEP, this Annual Review only consolidates my experience of the team and the hard work they undertake day in day out. The LEP has gone from strength to strength in an incredibly turbulent time, offering support to a vast number of local businesses which play a vital role in our regional economy and community.

“The 2020-2021 annual review sets a precedent for the important work of the LEP, and I’m looking forward to continuing to drive this momentum. The LEP is a catalyst for economic recovery and growth and a driver of more sustainable, innovative and inclusive business practices that raise our profile in both domestic and international markets. Looking to the rest of 2021 and beyond, that sentiment will continue to shape everything we do.”

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