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August 2015



August Skills Newsletter is here.  You can also sign up for future editions.







The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is a strong and dynamic partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and further education across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay with the purpose of leading and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West.

About the Newsletter
Produced monthly, this newsletter aims to keep people informed of current news and activity.

www.heartofswlep.co.uk
 

Introduction - Paul Taylor, Head of Strategy and Operations

 

Welcome to the August edition of the Heart of the South West LEP newsletter. You may have seen in the news that the Chancellor last week formally designated Plymouth’s South Yard as an ‘Enterprise Zone’. This means businesses will receive financial incentives to locate there, and enables the city to invest in much-needed infrastructure and facilities to support business growth. South Yard represents a major opportunity to support the growth of the marine industries in and around Plymouth, and right across the Heart of the South West area, so this announcement is a major boost for our strategic economic plan; not to mention a fitting endorsement of the hard work our colleagues at Plymouth City Council put in to the bid.

National government recently also announced a new round of Enterprise Zones, and our partners in local government are working hard on potential opportunities in the Heart of the South West with a view to the LEP submitting a bid in mid-September. Watch this space.

As regular readers of the newsletter will know, our LEP has done particularly well at securing capital funding for investment in projects through a competitive national process known as ‘Growth Deals’. Through the first two rounds of funding we have secured a total of £195.5m of investment for a range of projects from transport schemes, to college facilities, to business and innovation centres – all projects designed to boost our economy by creating jobs and helping firms become more productive.

Over the summer months we have been preparing for a third round of growth deals by working through our three leaderships groups (people, place, business) to develop a new portfolio of projects to submit to government. We aim to come up with a suite of projects which both fit our local economic priorities, and which align with the Government’s aspirations to boost UK productivity. We wait to hear more from the Chancellor, probably in the Autumn, on what new funding will be made available nationally for a new round of Growth Deals.

Until after the Government has completed its comprehensive spending review in the Autumn there remains a certain amount of uncertainty about future opportunities and funding available to invest in local growth. Added to that, with funding reductions in all parts of the public sector, it’s a challenging time for many of the LEP partners. However, the Government’s new economic agenda, focused not solely on creating jobs but with much greater emphasis on boosting productivity, presents an exciting opportunity for our LEP, as it brings local and national strategies for growth into much closer alignment.

Our strategic economic plan has long been clear that we must focus on the things that will make the local economy more productive: tackling poor connectivity, supporting businesses to innovate, export and trade internationally, a skills system that provides the talent our businesses need, and so on.

Over coming months we’ll be doing a number of things to refresh and ‘recalibrate’ our plans to ensure they are fit for purpose in a different economic and political environment to the one which prevailed when the LEP was established. This won’t be an exercise in writing a very long document full of government jargon, but it will mean that we’ll be coming to talk to you and about our plans for the next five years, and thinking hard about whether we have the right priorities for future investment, and that the right mechanisms are in place for bringing partners together to deliver.

Very much kicking off this process of refresh is next month’s inaugural business conference at Exeter Racecourse, where businesses are being invited to attend a series of workshops and presentations to explore what it means to deliver productivity-led growth in the Heart of the South West. This will be followed by the AGM where the LEP Board Directors will celebrate and thank partners for our successes, and be on hand to talk to delegates.
Note that conference materials will be available on the website for those not able to attend, and if you haven’t yet booked your place use this link to do so. Places are limited and on a first come-first served basis and for the Business Conference we are restricting spaces to one per organisation.

Please register at www.eventbrite.co.uk - you will need a password to book you place and this is "september" - all lower case.

The conference will be followed by a series of ‘LEP conversations’ where we’ll be out and about hearing first-hand what your partnership is (or isn’t!) doing for you, what we could do differently, any major projects we should be considering as part of our plans, and how you’d like to be involved. There will be more information about how to book your place at these workshops in subsequent newsletters and on our website.

As well as organising standalone sessions ourselves we’re also looking to ‘piggy-back’ on existing relevant meetings and events. Business organisations who would like us to run a session at one of their existing meetings or events should contact HotSW Partnership Manager Heidi Hallam at heidi.hallam@heartofswlep.co.uk.

Heart of the South West LEP Growth update

 

The Heart of the South West Growth Hub – the single point of access for business information, advice and guidance in the Heart of the South West – is currently in a transition phase whilst we prepare to commission a new service, to be in place early 2016. In the meantime businesses can access advice from the national helpline and website, the Business Growth Service; telephone 0300 456 3565 Textphone: 0208 742 8620 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm or visit www.greatbusiness.gov.uk.

The new enhanced Heart of the South West Growth Hub which launches in 2016 will appear to businesses as a one-stop-shop. However, there are three main elements to the service – all working closely together. These three elements are:

  1. The Growth Hub Service (services for all) - to provide independent awareness raising, diagnosis, referrals and signposting; working in partnership with existing business support providers. This will be procured through an OJEU process led by Somerset County Council and we expect this procurement process to commence shortly when an official contract notice will be published.
  2. The Growth Hub Brokerage Service - as part of our diagnosis and referral activities in the Growth Hub, consisting of business advisors supporting businesses (linked to our SMART specialisations and innovation spaces) with face-to-face support. This activity will be funded through ERDF - see SME support: call (OC16R15P 0166) which went live on the 31st July 2015.
  3. Targeted Business Support Services (available to businesses) - those elements of business support delivery that are publically funded; the first locally supported service being the recent ERDF SME support: call Start Ups (OC16R15P 0164) which went live on the 31st July 2015.

ESIF update

 

Following the announcement in last month’s newsletter that a number of calls for proposals have been launched, HotSW LEP reminds potential applicants that these calls are still open with a deadline of 25 September.

These funding opportunities include four specific European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) calls for the HotSW area relating to: Supporting SMEs to develop ideas and products; the HotSW Growth Hub; Small Business Support; and the Hinkley Supply Chain. Details of all open ESI Funds calls can be found at www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds.

For further updates on the European Structural Investment Fund and its progress relating to the area, the HotSW LEP website is regularly updated as new announcements are made www.heartofswlep.co.uk/news/european-structural-and-investment-funds-strategy.

LEP Growing Places project - Ocean Studios opening with A taste of things to come

 

Ocean Studios, Plymouth’s £4.2 million artistic development within an approximate 60,000 ft2 Grade I listed former naval building, was launched in July.

The £4.2 million Ocean Studios development at Royal William Yard, has been funded in the main by ERDF, Plymouth City Council, HotSW LEP’s Growing Places Fund and English Heritage, all of whom have been working together with the founding directors, Leigh Mason and Jennifer Jayarajah, to ensure that the project became a reality.

Director of the Tate, Sir Nicolas Serota, who launched the event, highlighted the fact that: “In the modern world, the creative industries are an increasingly important part of our economy, growing at 5%, twice as fast as the economy as a whole,” saying that Ocean Studios represents a “critical step in the regeneration of Plymouth” and “will help to ensure that artists are attracted to and stay in the city.”

Over 30 Ocean Studios residents are already at work within studios of various sizes across the property, and there are many opportunities for the public to get involved: visiting exhibitions, short courses, associated membership, volunteering, corporate sponsorship, teaching and mentoring or hot desking. To find out more visit: www.oceanstudios.org.uk.

Businesses responses needed to help understand growth trends

 

The field work period for the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) Q3 2015 is now open for responses, and the Chambers of Commerce is asking for responses from Heart of the South West businesses to help understand how the South West economy is fairing.

Run by British Chambers of Commerce, this survey is the largest independent business survey in the UK. The QES is the first economic indicator of the quarter, published in advance of official figures and other private surveys and it consistently mirrors trends in official data.

Last quarter, results from the QES pointed to moderate growth in the UK economy over the next year, driven mostly by the service sector. Results for the South West indicated that 63% of businesses anticipated an increase in turnover in Q2 2015. South West results also showed that local businesses had concerns over competition, business rates and inflation as potential impacts to business. View the full results from Q2 2015 on the dedicated QES website here.

In order to find out whether our economy in the South West is growing, HotSW businesses are asked to complete this short online survey. As many businesses as possible - both members and non-members of the Chamber – are asked to participate in the QES in order to provide a detailed breakdown of our region's economic results, which will be shared with participants once they are published.

Complete the survey online here.

Businesses urged to make case for increased investment in electricity grid

 

HotSW LEP has been alerted by a number of partners as to the likely restrictions on new developments caused by the inadequate electricity network capacity.

We are soon to launch a campaign to address this situation by increasing investment in the grid as a matter of urgency, so we are gathering evidence from businesses across the HotSW area for their speculations on how their future business and related growth in their industry could be adversely affected.

Western Power is proposing to introduce measures to mitigate the effects of restrictions to the grid, including delaying high voltage generation connections for low carbon initiatives and encouraging existing generating connections, e.g. solar companies, to turn off their generators at the times of lowest demand for power – i.e. on hot days.

The LEP is keen to gather views from the business community to help make its case for investment. Please email to info@heartofswlep.co.uk.

LEADER funding available to boost rural employment in Devon and Somerset

 

Rural businesses and organisations across Devon and Somerset are being encouraged to apply for European grants designed to boost rural employment.

The LEADER scheme is one element of the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by the EU and Defra. There is in the region of £12 million of funding available for projects that meet the eligibility criteria throughout most of rural Devon and Somerset, and the funding is available until December 2020.

Grants will be available to support the local rural economy, and will be particularly aimed at increasing farm productivity, developing micro and small enterprises and farm diversification, rural tourism, rural services, cultural and heritage activity and increasing forestry productivity.

The funding is being administered by eight Local Action Groups (LAGs), each covering a specific area and focused on the things that matter most to their local economies. Funding will be available directly to businesses and to organisations with innovative and collaborative ideas to improve their economy. Each project will be assessed and funding will be awarded go to those that make the greatest contribution to the local strategic objectives and offer best value for money by creating new jobs and helping the rural economy to grow.

More information about the programmes and contact details will shortly be on our website, but in the meantime for Somerset go to www.somersetleader.org.uk and this covers - Western Somerset; the Heart of Wessex; parts of Making it Local; and the Levels and Moors. For the wider Devon area please contact your local group via the following emails: Torridge and North Devon area - Leader5@northdevonplus.co.uk; Greater Dartmoor LEAF and South Devon Coastal - admin@drcompany.co.uk; and for Making it Local and REAL Devon dominie.dunbrook@devon.gov.uk.

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