Within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, we have already created partnerships and delivery mechanisms that can easily be adapted to fulfil the role required for our LEP.
Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Marine Renewable Roadmap launched 22 May
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was launched in May 2011. Private sector-led, it is a partnership between the private and public sectors and is driving the economic strategy for the area, determining local priorities and undertaking activities to drive growth and the creation of local jobs.
The LEP is business-driven and our board currently includes nine representatives of the private sector in Cornwall, three Cornwall Council representatives, one representative from the Isles of Scilly Council and one representative from the education sector. Click for more info.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP is one of 39 LEPs across England set up following the Coalition Government's new approach to economic development. This new approach puts businesses in the driving seat and empowers the private sector to determine their own priorities.
My last blog was written just before the General Election, since which time we have seen the democratic process bring a uniformity of colour to our Parliamentary constituencies across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
From the LEP's point of view we remain of course absolutely apolitical. We will always work with whatever colour of government at national or local level in the interests of getting the best possible outcomes for our region and its people and businesses.
I would like to place on record my thanks to those former MPs who were not successful at the ballot box on May 7 for their help and support over the years. We look forward to maintaining a similarly constructive relationship with our newly elected Parliamentarians and congratulate them on their election to office.
In the coming weeks the LEP will be meeting with all our MPs in Westminster and I will be joining with the Chairs of the 38 other LEPs in meeting new Ministers of State.
A priority for me will be seeking clarity on the delivery of our £60 million Growth Deal with Government beyond this financial year, and pressing for more responsibilities on local growth. Given the Chancellor's recent pledge to give English cities the 'levers to grow their economy' and recognition that the old model of running everything from London is 'broken', we will be championing similar economic devolution here. Our partner, Cornwall Council, will be working with the Government on wider devolution powers.
This Parliament coincides with our ambition to see around £1 billion of public and private money invested in our economy over the next five years, so it's a critical period and what's essential is that we maintain momentum and build on the devolved local growth agenda of the last administration.
I believe that LEPs, by being business-led partnerships with local authorities, are uniquely placed to champion and grow their respective areas, and work together across borders on common agendas. An example of that is marine renewable energy, an area where we see considerable growth potential because of our natural resources, existing test facilities and supply chain.
That is why the LEP, together with Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, have just published the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Marine Renewable Roadmap. This charts a course for the next 10 years towards the commercialisation of marine energy, and what businesses and the public sector need to do to realise its potential.
Crucially we are not working in isolation. This is an industry with global potential that we believe could create in excess of 100 new businesses and 700 highly paid jobs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2020, in line with our economic strategy. That means we must play our part in keeping the UK at the forefront of this emerging market by working collaboratively at home and abroad.
Another example of where the LEP has made a real difference is in channelling investment to local businesses and major projects that can unlock growth potential. As promised in my last blog, we have just published figures showing how, over the last three years, our investment of £19 million of Government money is expected to create more than 3,000 jobs and safeguard a further 3,500 by the end of March next year. Some of that money has gone into strategic projects like supporting transport on the Isles of Scillies and upgrading rolling stock, but the vast majority has been spent directly supporting 140 local businesses.
We want to do much more of that, which is why we are working on a package of EU Growth Programme investment that would provide a range of financial support to local businesses. The aim is to plug any gaps in mainstream finance to the SME community and create a revolving fund that is market-led and moves us from a culture that is reliant on grants to one that is more about investment. We're hoping for a fund of around £60 million that will launch next year.
In the meantime the Government's tender for the delivery of around £30 million of business support as part of the EU Growth Programme is about to close. As well as delivering national Government targets there is a range of proposed local activity which has been championed by the LEP and our partners. This includes support for start-ups, inward investment, business coaching and a voucher scheme aimed specifically at businesses on the Isles of Scilly.
Around £5 million of this call has been set aside for the creation of a Growth Hub. This will build an impartial business advice service that is tailor-made for our area and is expected to be up and running in the first quarter of next year.
In the meantime the LEP will be setting up an interim sign-posting service via our website to help businesses navigate through the range of opportunities that will become available. This will go live in July.
Further 'calls', which are invitations to bid to run EU-funded projects, will be issued in the coming months. Most of these will be proposed locally but issued by the Government and as soon as they go live we will keep you informed via our website.
It is clear from our recent attendance at the Cornwall Business Fair, the annual Finance In Cornwall event and our discussions on the Isles of Scilly during our May board meeting on the islands, that many businesses find the topic of EU funding confusing.
The truth is that while the EU Growth Programme presents tremendous opportunities for local businesses to grow and prosper, there is more limited scope to bid directly in to the programme because of the way it is structured. Instead, the majority of local businesses will reap the benefits once projects providing things like business support and finance are up and running, which is still some way off.
Making sure that businesses know what EU-funded support is available, and how they can access it, is a critical mission for the LEP which is why the Growth Hub will be so important.
With that in mind, and in an effort to help dispel any confusion and maybe even bust a few myths along the way, the LEP will be at the Royal Cornwall Show on June 4, 5 and 6. We will be joined by members of the EU Growth Programme team, so please do come along and see us on stand 286 when we will try and answer any questions you may have.
And one final point. In the autumn we will be holding our first annual event. Timings and venue have yet to be confirmed, but we'll be in touch later with all the details.