With business confidence on the up in 2016/17, the LEP worked to support businesses’ growth plans and ensure their voice was heard on key issues, including Brexit and the industrial strategy.
This year we became one of the first LEPs to appoint a dedicated Small Business Champion, Graham Cross, in recognition of the vital role SMEs play in the Humber economy. Graham works with our Business Development Board and membership organisations including Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses to understand and act on the needs of businesses.
One of the highlights of our business engagement during 2016/17 was the Humber Northern Powerhouse Business Summit. Organised as part of the LEP’s support for Business Week, it attracted top level speakers from across the North and provoked plenty of debate.
The LEP’s business investment programmes went from strength to strength, with a stream of decisions made by our Investment Panel of local business experts.
In the past two years our Growing the Humber programme, managed by North East Lincolnshire Council, supported 83 businesses with £3.5m in grants which will see 416 jobs created within two years and £17m of private sector investment leveraged.
The LEP secured a further £8m to extend the programme and reopened it in April 2017. In total the programme has already invested £32m in 334 businesses, enabling £133m private sector investment and will create an estimated 2,850 jobs by March 2021.
Through our Business Loan Fund, administrated by Hull City Council, in total 16 businesses have accessed £7.2m in loans, creating 152 direct jobs and 80 indirect jobs and enabling £10.5m private sector investment.
In March the programmes were supplemented by a new investment vehicle, the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which was enabled by 10 LEPs and the British Business Bank coming together. £5.7m of the Humber’s European funding allocation was invested into the scheme, and the first local investment has now been made.
European funding was also used to establish a range of support programmes during the year, including for business start-ups, export advice, manufacturing growth and innovation.
One of our key support mechanisms for businesses is our Business Growth Hub. By the end of March 2,997 businesses were supported to navigate local and national initiatives.
From business diagnostics, grants, exporting or supply chain support through the Growth Hub advisors and partner agencies, businesses have been supported to safeguard 224 jobs and create 469.
Through our Marketing Strategy Group we have also continued to raise the profile of the Humber for investment, teaming up with the Bondholders to launch a new portal at theHumber.com; delivering more Humber Renewables exhibition presences with businesses, local authorities and the Green Port Growth Programme; and organising a Parliamentary reception.