As this article is published Humber Business Week 2016 is in full swing.
Sharing successes, advice and experience to inspire, inform and educate, the week-long festival of business is showcasing what can be achieved when so many different organisations come together.
And in that spirit, as well as supporting, participating in and attending many events, this is the week we celebrate the partners regularly working with us.
We are a partnership, not an agency, and just as it is our partners in local authorities, education and business who deliver our projects, it is the volunteers on our boards, working groups and panels who drive forward our work.
Over 350 people now give up their time for free to contribute to some aspect of the LEP’s work and they deserve all of our thanks for giving back to our community. We will review some of the progress we have made together at our AGM this Friday.
Collaboration and partnership have been key to supporting the creation of a skilled and productive workforce with 20 representatives from business, providers and government agencies leading the agenda on our Employment and Skills Board and an impressive 280 members in our Skills Network.
Our Business Development Board works with membership organisations including Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses to understand and act on the needs of businesses large and small, and to bring together the business voice on key issues.
Small, business-led task groups are supporting businesses to thrive in the Humber as well as working with partners Bondholders, the Chamber and UKTI to promote the Humber as the UK’s energy estuary for trade and investment.
Our Business Growth Hub has now engaged 1:1 with nearly 2,000 Humber businesses to help them navigate local and national support available in the Humber since it launched in April 2014.
While support through Growing the Humber Programme and Business Loan Fund has seen £31.5m invested in 298 businesses creating 4,732 jobs and leveraging private sector investment of £200m by 2021.
Our Investment & Regulation Board made up of businesses, local authorities and statutory agencies has led on the development of the 25-year Humber Spatial Plan, which identifies policy and investment that can remove the barriers to growth and support infrastructure development.
Linked to this our Single Conversation Group, a successful national pilot bringing together statutory agencies, local planning authorities and the Humber LEP, is ensuring a smoother process for developing around the Humber Estuary providing time and cost benefits.
Bringing together our investments and those of partners linked to development land which forms the extended Humber Enterprise Zone – now comprising 1,200ha across 40 sites – is increasing the attractiveness of the Humber as a place to invest.
Investments through our Growth Deal in our partners’ projects are delivering transport improvements, flood alleviation and new or refurbished homes. We are now honing our proposals for further investment, which would build on this success.
Despite this, there is still much to do to help the Humber reach its potential – and uncertainties remain in the national and regional economic environments.
The threat of an economic slowdown, the decision awaiting us in the EU referendum on 23 June, and the regional uncertainty in Yorkshire as we still are yet to agree on devolution, will all be weighing on the minds of investors. Added to this, the relatively modest gains on the Northern agenda so far mean there is plenty to be cautious about in the months ahead.
This Friday we will be discussing what role the Humber should play in the Northern Powerhouse at a special Business Week event organised by the LEP with support from Andrew Jackson Solicitors, Humberbusiness.com and Bondholders. Over 300 people are set to attend so there is certainly interest from local business leaders, and I hope we will be able to make some progress on that issue if not the rest.
The strong partnership we have in the Humber gives us a good foundation to tackle the challenges ahead. The LEP will continue to deliver our distinctive role, working in collaboration with a great number of public and private organisations. Over the coming year we will also place greater emphasis on working with our allies across Yorkshire and the North to drive the growth of all of our areas.
We must harness the business drive and enthusiasm that exists throughout Humber Business Week and go forward together in setting out a confident role for the Humber and Yorkshire in the Northern Powerhouse and making the most of the opportunities ahead.