15 April 2016

Supporting businesses, fuelling economic growth

In a column originally written for Impact magazine, Chair Edwin Booth outlines how the LEP is helping businesses across Lancashire grow, creating jobs and driving economic growth.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has set the ambitious target of growing Lancashire’s economy by £3bn by 2025 and creating 50,000 jobs, while supporting the building of 40,000 new homes and all the infrastructure that goes with that.

To achieve this transformational change, since 2011 the LEP has established Lancashire’s most comprehensive growth strategy, investment framework and delivery programme and secured nearly £1bn in investment to deliver major strategic work programmes and initiatives.

Lancashire is an economic powerhouse in its own right; a £23.4 billion economy with over 40,000 businesses including many with world class credentials. Lancashire’s economy is central, in terms of its scale and capability, to delivering the economic ambitions of the North of England, as articulated via initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse. Lancashire has built a reputation as a national centre of excellence in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and energy-related sectors. Its food and drink producers supply a significant percentage of the nation’s food and drink and the county’s visitor economy attracts over 63 million visitors per year.

The LEP is delivering the innovation, skills, supply-chain and infrastructure capability to grow this business base and make the Lancashire economy even more globally competitive and attractive to investors. We’ve made significant progress

One of our key initiatives is the business growth hub, Boost Business Lancashire, which provides the expert advice and the access to investment funds which businesses told us they needed in order to grow.

In less than three years, Boost has worked with over 2,800 local businesses across Lancashire, helping create 1,200 new jobs and generating new economic activity valued at £50m.  The LEP has just secured the funds for Boost Business Lancashire to continue for another three years, enabling it to work with a further 3,360 businesses in the county.

Our four complimentary enterprise zone sites combine to make a compelling Northern Powerhouse opportunity to potential industrial investors and occupiers, creating up to 10,000 jobs over 25 years.

A number of major strategic transport initiatives are underway and our Transport Prospectus identifies the major priorities critical to Lancashire's future economic success. These improved transport links will generate nearly £1 billion in new economic activity over the next 20 years.

We are also providing the investment funds businesses tell us they need to fuel further growth, through initiatives such as the £20m Growing Places fund, which is now on its ninth commercial investment in three-years.

Another barrier to growth identified by businesses which the LEP is addressing is skills shortages in key sectors. We are investing £30m in high-quality facilities offering extra training and apprenticeship places and are consulting on a framework to ensure skills and employment are more responsive to the needs of business.