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Catch up with the latest news from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership
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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter

Bulletin no: 27  August & September 2013

INTRODUCTION from the WLEP Chair,
Peter Pawsey

If anyone remains in doubt of the Government’s commitment to and reliance upon LEPs across England, they should have been with us at 10 Downing Street on 23rd July, when, on the hottest day of the year, we heard that commitment confirmed by the Prime Minister himself.
 
All 39 LEP Chairs were invited to a reception hosted by David Cameron and also attended by Vince Cable, Eric Pickles, Greg Clarke, Mark Prisk and a number of senior civil servants.
 
The Prime Minister thanked all of us for the work we had done so far and for the extraordinary amount of time that businessmen and women had devoted voluntarily to the demands of running a local enterprise partnership.   He reiterated the Government’s commitment to the LEPs and stressed the importance attached to our role as being at the heart of the economic recovery strategy.  Indeed he reaffirmed that LEPs are the ‘only show in town’ and that ever more responsibility and leadership will continue to come our way.  This has started with the Single Growth Fund and the EU Investment Funds. 
 
However he also urged LEPs to do more and to do it faster in respect to delivering those projects for which Government funding has already been earmarked under the Regional Growth Fund, the Growing Places Fund, the Pinch Point Programmes and others.
 
The event was an opportunity to speak personally with the PM and other key Ministers and to again network with other LEP Chairs.  Stemming from the latter opportunity, I have been able to promote potential co-operation with Gloucestershire LEP and with West of England (Bristol) LEP regarding cyber security, and with Coventry & Warwickshire LEP and with Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP regarding the Redditch Eastern Gateway ‘game changer’ site for example.

Driving Worcestershire Forward
WLEP Annual Conference – 10 October 2013

Further details are announced of our Annual Conference, taking place on Thursday 10 October at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium. 
The theme for this year’s event will be ‘Driving Worcestershire Forward’ (#drivingworcs) and we are pleased to announce that we have secured the services of TV presenter and champion rally driver,  Penny Mallory, to facilitate proceedings.
The conference programme is currently being finalised but our aim is to build on the success of last year’s event and to provide an update on our achievements over the past year.  We also want to showcase some of the innovative work going on in the county and let delegates know about our plans for the forthcoming year – particularly with regard to the Single Growth Fund (the ‘single pot’) and European Investment funding. 
Delegates will be placed in the ‘driving seat’ by ensuring we include plenty of opportunity for interactivity, networking and discussion. 
To book your place, visit www.eventelephant.com/drivingworcs
 

Worcestershire gets a share of Redundant Building Grant

As reported in the last Bulletin, following an announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, Worcestershire will share a £1.5 million pot awarded from the Redundant Building Grant Programme. 
This Programme can provide grants of up to £50,000 or 30% maximum towards the capital costs of bringing redundant or grossly under-utilised buildings back into productive, economic use. 
The money will cover schemes in the Worcestershire LEP and the neighbouring Marches LEP area. Grants cannot be used for residential conversion or for buildings converted for agricultural or horticultural uses, nor for speculative development, but the region has a great track record of job creation through providing such business premises appropriate to SMEs. 
Final details are currently being confirmed, but Worcestershire based businesses that want to find out more should ring the WLEP office on 01905 346180 or email enquiries@wlep.co.uk.

Worcestershire bucks latest unemployment trends

The July and August 2013 editions of the Worcestershire Monthly County Economic Summary showed that the county is bucking disappointing trends for the region as a whole.
The number of claimants in Worcestershire is now at its lowest level since December 2008 with claimant count rates having decreased to 2.6% of the 16-64 population.  This contrasts with figures of 4.3% for the West Midlands generally and 3.4% for UK as a whole. However it should be noted that unemployment figures across the whole of the West Midlands rose by 0.7% for the period.  
Whilst we can take some heart in the Worcestershire figures, we are only too conscious that they are still far too high and that trends can reverse very quickly in a fragile market.  There will always be more that we should and must do to enable all who can work to find work.
Further information is available at:  http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/pdf/EconomicSummaryAugust13.pdf

MEPs visit Worcestershire

We were delighted at the end of July to welcome a delegation of 10 MEPs, including Members from the UK, Germany, Portugal  and Belgium, to the county. 
The group was hosted by Anthea McIntyre MEP (Conservative, West Midlands Region) and comprised Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee. The party visited Evesham Vale Growers’ (EVG) facilities at Blackminster and at Fladbury/Lower Moor as part of a three day tour to the West Midlands.
Our Chair, Peter Pawsey, joined the delegation for the tour of EVG’s Springhill Nursery at Fladbury, near Evesham, which was led by Matt Powell, EVG’s Operations Manager.  On show were 12 acres of glasshouses, used entirely for tomato growing, surrounded by 2,000 acres of outdoor salad and vegetable production land.
Of particular interest to the group was the firm’s innovative renewable energy plant.  Its anaerobic digester turns green waste from the crops into energy that can be used both to heat and light its greenhouses, the excess being sold back to the respective national grids.
The LEP has developed a case study article on the innovative technology used at EVG.  For your copy, please contact: jan.bailey@wlep.co.uk.

Help needed with research on motorway bottlenecks 

Neighbouring Gloucestershire LEP, GFirst, is conducting a major piece of research aiming to understand the economic impact of motorway and trunk road bottlenecks, with particular reference to three notorious Gloucestershire hotspots.  Although based in our neighbouring county, two have a potentially major impact on Worcestershire businesses: 
  • Junction 9 of the M5 and the A46 approach at Ashchurch where significant traffic delays are common, with the potential to cause problems for businesses in eastern Worcestershire, including Evesham.
  • The ‘missing link’ near the ‘Air Balloon’ on the A417 near Cheltenham.  Frequent traffic delays and accidents on this single track carriageway have the potential to impact on journey times for those Worcestershire based businesses who need high quality road access to the Thames Valley and the south west. 
To take part, fill in the online survey by 12 September:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GFirstLEP.  
The researchers are also hoping to conduct in-depth interviews.  If interested, please contact Mike Curran, Business Sector Manager, GFirst LEP on 01452 563325 or mike.curran@gfirst.co.uk.

Call for Midlands’ Champion Apprentices 

Manufacturers in the Midlands are urged to enter their talented apprentices for the EEF’s (formerly Engineering Employers’ Federation) Future Manufacturing Awards.  Now in their fifth year, the regional awards will be judged in November with winners competing for the national awards at a prestigious ceremony in London in January 2014.
Manufacturing apprentices are recognised for their achievements and commitment in the Apprentice category, with awards for Outstanding Achievement by a First Year Apprentice and Outstanding Achievement by a Final Year Apprentice. 
More information is available at:  http://www.eef.org.uk/awards/default.htm


Upcoming Events

Highways Agency Workshop
19 September, Sixways

UKTI Conference
25 September, Sheffield


WLEP Board Meeting
26 September, Coombers, Brindley Road, Worcester


Growth Accelerator ‘Business Innovation Masterclass’
26 September, Worcester Sixways Stadium


National LEP Network Summit
9 October, British Library London


WLEP Annual Conference
10 October, Worcester Sixways Stadium, 08.00 to 13.00 hrs


WM LEP Chairs’ Meeting
30 October, Birmingham
 


Help needed with Quarterly Economic Survey

Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce are asking local businesses to complete their Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q3 2013.  This will help them to continue to gain an accurate view of the economy in the two counties.  Cutting through the politics and journalistic spin, the QES uses statistical information to reveal the hard facts about what is happening to businesses in the real world and, as it contributes to the British Chamber of Commerce's national survey, the QES influences policy at the highest levels of government. 
You can complete the survey here: (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QESQ3).   Closing date is 16 September.


Resource Efficient Worcestershire

If you are an SME business and would like to become more energy efficient, Worcestershire County Council and Hereford & Worcester Chamber of Commerce would like to hear from you. 
They have developed a Resource Efficient Worcestershire programme that offers free assessments with the potential to lead to a grant for your business worth up to £6,750 or 45% of project costs.  Grants can be used for activities such as more efficient lighting, heating, processes and equipment to reduce waste, water management and in-depth feasibility studies. 
For further information, visit www.business-central.co.uk/resource-efficiency-grants or call 01905 822803.


New Access to Finance portal launched 

Our new ‘Access to Finance’ portal was launched to an audience of nearly 150 Worcestershire business people at a specially themed Finditinworcestershire.com event held at Sixways in July. 


The site can be found at: http://accesstofinance.wlep.co.uk and is a one-stop shop for Worcestershire’s SME businesses to find financial advice and information. 
As well as access to a network of specialist financial advisers, the Portal provides advice on a range of financial issues.  Visitors can find out about the types of finance available to their businesses and request specific help via the on-line contact form. 
We’d welcome your feedback – please let us know what you think.


Incubate for Growth and look overseas

If you are ready to grow your business and would like to explore your potential for doing business overseas, you may be interested in an ‘Incubate for Growth’ event being run by UKTI at the Chamber of Commerce, Hereford & Worcester on 12 September.
Further details are available from: http://exploreyourgrowthpotential.eventbrite.co.uk or by phoning 0121 607 1775 or email l.blaj@uktiwm.co.uk.
 
Copyright © 2013
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership
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