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LEP Chief Executive’s speech to Finance in Cornwall event
Speech by Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, at the Finance in Cornwall event on 16 May to mark the start of Cornwall Business Week
I’m delighted to be here at Finance in Cornwall at the start of Business Week to introduce you to our Vision 2030: that by 2030 Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be the place where businesses thrive and people enjoy an outstanding quality of life.
It’s a confident and ambitious plan. Whilst it will need to respond to and be open to change – having listened to business and undertaken research and analysis to underpin it, we are clear what needs to be done. The plan is based on achieving: higher wages, growing exports, getting people into work, improving skills and access to education, and increasing productivity. Our targets are tough and ambitious – but achievable.
We must together make the most of our businesses, our people, and our place. The plan describes how we will back our traditional industries while supporting our ever increasing prominence in the digital and advanced engineering sectors that are taking Cornwall and Isles of Scilly in to the future.
More of the plan in a minute, but it underpins how important (and increasingly so) it is that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly speaks confidently and with one voice – especially to Government, investors and increasingly a global market.
No more was this the case than with our recent response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Clearly we will have to wait until after June 8th to understand more about a future Government’s priorities, but nonetheless, it was important that we responded clearly and with one voice.
It was not a funding bid but set out clearly our ambitions – and will support a dialogue with whichever Government is in power by the summer. We know that there were over 3,500 responses to the Green Paper, so ours had to stand out. You will find the summary on our website. We sought to ensure an ‘iron focus’ in our response which still captured the over 100 responses to our own consultation.
We underlined the importance of a Government response to rural productivity, as well as its emphasis on the UK’s key cities. We highlighted our real and increasing competitive advantage in space and satellite; our world leading green rural economy; our creative and digital industry; as well as our proven advantage in the tourism, agrifood and mining sectors.
We laid out the platform to continue negotiation of a future funding landscape post-Brexit – including the need to consider incentives for business growth beyond grants, to alternative investment streams and tax incentives.
As an organisation the LEP is of course not immune to criticism. I often struggle to balance claims that we are both not ambitious enough and also too ambitious; for example why are we prioritising sub-orbital travel when people struggle with public transport?
So it’s important that as well as working with business and our public sector to “sell” our message, as a LEP we must have a strong delivery programme.
So, right now, as well as ensuring a Cornwall bid went in to become the UK’s first spaceport, we are managing a Growth Deal Programme of some £350m delivering around 6,000 jobs, 7,000 homes and 7,000 square metres of workspace. We’ve made sure for example that we are investing in public transport – having funded in a number of new, high quality buses as part of the One Public Transport programme for Cornwall.
On April 1st our second Enterprise Zone (MarineHub) went live, at the same time that the Wave Hub transferred into Cornwall Council ownership to help drive delivery of our offshore renewable programme. This complements our other Enterprise Zone, Aerohub, which is landing (sorry!) real inward investment in aerospace and satellite industries, in Cornwall, right now.
We’re currently undertaking a lot of work to underpin these opportunities across Cornwall with a skills programme targeting STEM based learning with employers, our schools, colleges and universities.
We’ve co-invested in the Growth Hub, with a complementary Skills Hub about to go live.
Our EU Programme is still live and investing – and as well as a number of projects already up and running, we expect a new round of calls in the summer.
As part of this I am delighted that we will be moving forward in partnership with the British Business Bank later this year with a non-grant Investment Fund for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly worth some £80 to £100m over the next 12 years. That’s been a long held ambition of the LEP which is finally coming to fruition.
So, to finish I’d like to show you a short film about our Vision 2030. We spent a lot of time with young people in developing our Plan – and in this unscripted film put together with Callington School and the Eden Project – we describe our vision for people, place and business.