What’s the big idea? Bristol firms urged to come up with suggestions to spark jobs and growth

December 16, 2013

Ideas on the best way to create sustainable jobs and growth across the West of England are being invited from Bristol firms.

The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) today launches a six-week public consultation on its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) – a blueprint for growth over the next six years.

The Government has challenged England’s 39 LEPs to develop plans that stimulate economic growth and create jobs. The ‘prize’ for the best plans is a bigger share of a £2bn growth fund which will partly shape how the region grows over the next six years.

The SEP has been developed over the past six months by the LEP’s extensive network of businesses, colleges, universities, civic society and local authority officers and members. 

The draft plan will be available online and in libraries from this afternoon until Friday January 24 for anyone to offer comments and suggestions,

LEP chief executive Paul Wilson said: “Our plan is based on extensive research and widespread participation and now we want to capture the wisdom of the crowd. 

“The plan is focussed yet imaginative, ambitious yet deliverable and we want to make sure we are representing the dynamism of the region, so ideas and inputs are very welcome.

“It is a highly-competitive process. A bold and clear vision is required – one that can deliver local people and the Government a good return on investment. We have chosen to consult on our plan, which many other LEPs are not doing, so we can demonstrate the sense of local ownership.”

The LEP began work on the SEP in the late spring by conducting more than 50 in depth interviews.  A SEP board was established in the summer with four business leaders and four senior local authority officers.  The board has met every month to make decisions based on a variety of economic reports, and on ideas to stimulate growth coming from the LEPs business sector working groups, and cross-cutting working groups. The final version will be submitted to Government at the end of March.  

The West of England’s plan is highly ambitious, with an indicative programme pitched in excess of £400mn over the lifetime of the plan – £70-95m a year. The economic strategy has identified five key growth areas as the focus for support and intervention. These are: low carbon; hi-tech; advance engineering/aerospace; creative and digital media; professional and legal services.

Mr Wilson added: “These are the sectors which have the greatest potential to create economic growth, jobs, and to have positive knock-on effects on the rest of the economy. “But we also need to demonstrate that every job directly created, should also create or support additional jobs locally.

“Our proposals estimate that we can generate tens of thousands of jobs over the next six years and give the West of England a massive, sustainable economic boost that will benefit everyone.”

In addition, four drivers of growth have been identified as key areas that provide a platform for job creation: skills and people; place and infrastructure; investment & promotion; business support (including SMEs).

The SEP can be viewed at http://www.westofenglandlep.co.uk/plan. There is a short introductory video, an executive summary of the plan and the full document.

The feedback will be analysed and used to shape the final version of the plan. It will then go for LEP Board sign off, and then to each of the four West of England unitary authorities, before being submitted to government at the end of March 2014.

The Government is expected to announce the funding allocations in the summer of 2014.



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