Strategy submitted to Government
At the end of last month we, in common with England’s other 38 LEPs, submitted our final European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF) Strategy to Government.
This comprehensive document is of critical importance for securing at least the nominal amount of €68.1 million (£56 million) allocated to Worcestershire from European Funds for the period 2014-20.
In compiling the ESIF, we have undertaken an extensive engagement process that has involved working with partners in Worcestershire County Council and the six District Councils, the LEP Board and its Business Board, various thematic sub-groups and a Task and Finish Group. We have also collaborated with neighbouring and other LEPs and consulted with many social enterprise groups.
The Strategy addresses the fact that for many years Worcestershire could be argued to have punched below its weight in terms of Gross Value Added performance and productivity and has failed to promote itself proactively. Our ESIF document suggests a strategic way forward that will provide a catalyst for economic growth and jobs for Worcestershire.
We will let you know the outcome of our submission when Government gets back to us later this year.
Call for ‘Expressions of Interest’
As part of the consultation process for both the European Structural & Investment Fund Strategy (ESIF) and Worcestershire’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), we sent out a call for ‘Expressions of Interest’ late last year.
We have received submissions from many diverse organisations, all of which will be reviewed by the WLEP executive team over the next few weeks.
We will be responding to all those who submitted an ‘Expression of Interest’ before the end of March at the very latest. However, the feedback to project proposers is likely to be in the form of observations on, for example, how to add value to submissions by developing linkages across a number of schemes rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
Proposers are also asked to note that of the two main funding routes available to the LEP the Single Growth Fund will not be available to spend on projects until April 2015 and EU funds are unlikely to be available until the end of 2014 at the earliest
Additional European funding for Worcestershire
In addition to the funds available from the European Structural and Investment Fund, we were delighted to hear that Worcestershire has been awarded a further €2.8 million (£2.2 million) from DEFRA for the period 2015-2020.
The money is from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development and comes from Common Agricultural Policy direct payments. It is specifically intended for businesses in rural areas, including farming, who will be able to apply for funding of activities that support Worcestershire LEP’s wider European Structural and Investment Funds Strategy (see above).
Planning permission for Technology Park
More good news for the county’s future economic and employment prospects came with the announcement that planning permission had been granted for Worcester Technology Park.
The 70-hectare site is located adjacent to Junction 6 of the M5 and will provide 180-200,000 sq m of office and manufacturing space
Targeting technology-rich manufacturing businesses, the completed development has the potential to create 5,500 jobs and generate £1,719m in Gross Value Added over a 10-year period.
The Park is one of four 'Game Changer' sites in the county that will provide employment land that is seen by Worcestershire LEP, the County Council and the respective District Councils as vital to support conditions for business growth. The other sites are located at South Kidderminster, Redditch Eastern Gateway and Malvern Science Park.
The new access to the Tech Park and its primary infrastructure will commence later in 2014 with the first serviced plots becoming available next year.
Our Executive Director, Gary Woodman, recently attended the launch of ‘Superfast Worcestershire’ – a partnership between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the local government family. The partnership aims for 90% of county premises to be able to receive superfast broadband by 2016.
The ability to offer superfast broadband is central to the LEP’s strategy for Worcestershire’s future economic growth. Attracting investment to the county and retaining and growing existing businesses is contingent upon the availability of world class technology. The LEP therefore wholeheartedly welcomes the commitment shown by the County Council, BT and our local government family to invest in the vital infrastructure.
For further information about the rollout, visit the project’s dedicated website
UKTI tour to ‘Emerging Europe’
Interested in doing business with some of Europe’s fastest developing countries? Then contact UKTI for details of a five day tour they are organising to ‘Emerging Europe’ – encompassing the major cities of Krakow and Brno and onwards to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest.
The tour is taking place from 2 – 7 March and costs £75 + VAT, excluding flights and accommodation.
Opportunities have been identified in several sectors, including: energy; financial services; healthcare & life sciences; infrastructure; retail, food & drink; and security & ICT.
To register your interest or for further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org