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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter

Bulletin no: 36  - June 2014

Introduction from the WLEP Chair - Peter Pawsey

We still await a definitive response from Government to our bid for funding under the Strategic Economic Plan for Worcestershire that along with the plans from  the 38 other LEPs  was submitted on 31 March. The outcome is anticipated during July.

In the meantime we know that the 2015/16 bids were about three times over-subscribed so, not surprisingly,  we cannot expect to get all we have asked for.  That inevitably means that we will need to downscale some of our early ambitions and roll forward some of the initiatives by including them in our bids for later years. 

Meanwhile, along with the County Council and the other local authorities, we are determined to continue with the key projects and  initiatives that will contribute to the county’s economy and create even more and better jobs.  We will not lose sight of the overall 10 year Strategic Economic Plan that all sectors across the county have developed and signed up for together, and when and if direct grant is not forthcoming, we will seek to find other solutions.
Collectively with businesses across Worcestershire we must all be doing something right however as the number of benefit claimants has fallen by more than half since its peak in August 2009.  Employment levels and prospects in the county are also significantly better than for England as a whole and well above the general scene across the West Midlands.  There are however still some employment black spots, particularly in our larger towns and the City, where special focus is required.
However, overall Worcestershire really is THE place in which to live, work, play and invest – and it will get better still.  Let's all keep telling that to the world and to potential investors.


Strategic Economic Plan: priority projects revealed

Worcestershire LEP has revealed its top priorities for projects to be funded from the Government’s Single Growth Fund for the period 2015-16. 
Among the top priorities are the four ‘Gamechanger’ employment sites: Worcester Technology Park, Malvern Hills Science Park, South Kidderminster Enterprise Park, and Redditch Eastern Gateway, together with  Worcestershire Parkway Station, phased improvements to the Worcester Southern Link Road and a package of highway improvement projects across the south of the county, designed to avoid a repeat of this year’s closures due to flooding. 
For further details on the other priority schemes identified, please click here.

Tour of Britain – Worcestershire route to be announced

An event to launch the Worcestershire Stage of this year’s Tour of Britain will be held at the Hive in Worcester on the evening of 19 June.

This will be the first opportunity for the public to hear details of the route that the Race Stage will take around Worcester City, before moving onwards through Malvern, Upton, Evesham, Pershore and Broadway, then passing into Gloucestershire and finishing in Bristol.
Riders from the NFTO Pro Cycling team will be in attendance at the Launch, including Stockton-on-Teme resident, Sam Williams.
Stage Four of the Tour will be starting from the Hive in Worcester on Wednesday 10 September: the first time the race has returned to the county since 2008. 
The Race Stage provides a great opportunity for businesses in Worcestershire to showcase themselves.  If you are interested in sponsoring please contact the LEP office.

ICE President’s visit

Our Executive Chair, Peter Pawsey, recently hosted a visit to the city by  the Institution of Civil Engineer’s President, Geoff French.
The visit included a ‘flooding round table’ event at the Hive when the delegation discussed how Worcestershire dealt with the severe flooding it faced earlier this year. 

David Throup, from the Environment Agency, and John Hobbs, Director of Business, Environment and Community at Worcestershire County Council, set the scene for discussions and talked about the practical measures that had been taken to keep key road networks open.
The President was later taken to Evesham Vale Growers to tour the firm’s innovative anaerobic digester plant at Fladbury.

Further slide in claimant count

The latest jobless figures for Worcestershire show another significant decrease in those claiming Jobseekers' allowance.  The claimant count is now at its lowest level since September 2008.
The county continues to perform better than the West Midlands region and England.  The claimant count for Worcestershire is now 1.9% of the 16-64 resident population, compared to 3.3% for the West Midlands and 2.5% for England. 

This is half the number  of claimants recorded at the peak in August 2009 and is a clear sign that the private sector jobs market has continued to grow strongly across the county. 

There was also an encouraging drop of about 10% over the month in the number of 18-24 year old claimants and further reductions in those who have been claiming for over 12 months.
Further details are available here.

IOD appoints new Chair

The Institute of Directors Hereford & Worcester Branch has announced its new Chairman. 
Bob Brown, who is a partner at management consultants CMC Partners, succeeds Francis Christie with immediate effect.  To email him, click here

Government support for training

Readers may be interested to know about the Government’s ‘Employer Ownership Fund’, a £10 million pot that seeks to support training in the automotive supply chain.  Specifically, this is targeted at training in the automotive supply chain that raises workforce skills and supports wider automotive sector investment and growth.
Up to 50% of the costs of training will be available to eligible schemes, with grants from a minimum of £100,000 to £1.6 m per project over three years.
Further details are available here

Cyber Security Advice 

All businesses need to take cyber security seriously – a breach could mean significant reputational damage or financial disaster.

WLEP Business Board member, Steve Borwell-Fox, has collated some advice on practical actions that can be taken to reduce the cyber risk in your business.  Click here to find out more.

Support for the Cotswold Line?

You may be aware that the Department for Transport is conducting a consultation on the future of the Great Western Railway.

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, has asked us to encourage local businesses to add their voices to the consultation.  Of particular interest is whether you would be more likely to use the Cotswold Line if the journey time to London fell below two hours.

The Consultation is open until 26 June.  To add your views, click here.

Strictly Worcestershire

Congratulations to everyone involved with ‘Strictly Worcestershire’ that took place at Chateau Impney last month.  What a wonderful and truly dazzling evening it was!

Mark and Caron Steele from Deer Park Hall were the eventual victors, but all eight of the dancing couples gave the national TV show a run for its money.  Truly spectacular!


Upcoming Events

Tour of Britain – Regional Launch 
19 June
The Hive, Worcester
Innovation Grant Fund Event
24 June
Warwick University
Higher Apprenticeships Event
26 June
Sixways Stadium, Worcester
Manufacturing Forum
1 July
Morgan Technical Ceramics, Stourport
The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Business Awards 2014
10 July
Bank House Hotel, Bransford
The Tour of Britain - Stage 4
10 September
Starting from Worcester City Centre
WLEP Annual Conference
10 October
Chateau Impney, Droitwich Spa
WLEP Board Meetings:
24 July
23 September
20 November 

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme

Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses is a fully funded programme designed to unlock the economic and job creation potential of small businesses and social enterprises from across the Midlands.

The Programme is delivered by Aston Business School in partnership with the Goldman Sachs Foundation and is targeted at business owners who have clear ambitions to expand their small businesses or social enterprises.  Through practical tools and resources it aims to help lay the foundations for long term sustainable growth and job creation.

The Programme is now seeking business owners or leaders to apply for its next cohort, due to start in September 2014.  If you are interested in finding out more, contact the team on 0121 204 3225.

Closing date for applications is 27 June.

Higher Apprenticeships Programme launches

Worcestershire Business Central is launching the Higher Apprenticeship programme at an event being held at Sixways on 26th June.
The sectors available for Higher Apprenticeships are Manufacturing, Engineering, Cyber Security/ICT and Research & Development.
As an incentive for Worcestershire based SMEs to take on Higher Apprenticeships, Worcestershire Business Central is offering a limited number of grants of £3,000 towards the employer contribution.
Further information is available here

New Innovation Grant Fund 

Companies with an interest in materials-based innovation may be interested in attending an event being held at the University of Warwick on Tuesday 24 June.
The University will be launching an innovation grant fund that could mean up to £2,000 of materials-related consultancy support, including market and industry research, for eligible West Midlands businesses. 
For further information, contact Phil Smith at the university.  

WLEP is on Facebook 

Worcestershire  LEP has started a new Facebook page.  Please be our ‘Friend’.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership
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Malvern Hills Science Park, Geraldine Road
Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3SZ
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