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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 includes ten 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.

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A word from Chris Pomfret, Chairman

April 2014

Since my last blog we have passed a significant milestone with the submission to Government of our Strategic Economic Plan which charts our ambitions for the economic future of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly until 2020.

The vision we have set out is of a thriving and vibrant Cornwall and Isles of Scilly economy benefiting from our significant local assets and innovating our way into global markets.

Our plan, which in common with all 39 LEPs has been put together at the request of Government, makes the case for a single investment programme with more decision making locally that pulls together funding streams from across the public and private sector and puts local communities at the heart of championing a bespoke approach to growth.

It is a vision that embraces the opportunities presented by the global requirement to move towards a low carbon economy and the development of new energy sources like marine renewables and deep geothermal. It recognises the enormous potential of our digital economy, built in part on the ongoing investment in superfast broadband, and the forecast that it will make up 10% of our GDP within 10 years.

The plan grasps the opportunities around aerospace and satellite technology. It highlights the potential for Goonhilly to be a catalyst for significant growth and the creation of a new space sector cluster, and the role of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Newquay Cornwall Airport in providing an unparalleled aviation environment with tax incentives and a benign planning regime for inward investors.

It looks at the role of agricultural and food technology, being pioneered by our academics here in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, in contributing to global food security and international development. It considers the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture and tourism, pillars of our traditional economy, and the need for continued focus on quality and developing new markets.

It has specific interventions for the Isles of Scilly, including significant investment in upgrading the islands' infrastructure to support a long term sustainable future.

And of course it argues for substantial investment in our people so we can achieve the transformation away from today's low wages, low productivity and low skills, towards a future economy where we are next generation pioneers. That will include targeted activities to make sure we are equipping people with the skills our employers need, and ensuring that we reach those people that are furthest from the labour market so we can help create new opportunities for them.

We also propose to focus on early school life and bring employers into curriculum delivery and design much earlier to help create a future of opportunity for our young people.

It's an ambitious but we believe deliverable plan. At its heart sits the next European programme, worth some £520 million to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2020. And it includes a £71m bid over the next two years into the Government's £2 billion Local Growth Fund.

This includes a range of specific projects that focus on underlying conditions for growth, including transport, skills and housing, with the aim of accelerating the delivery of the right jobs and the right homes in the right places.

Competition for this £71m will be fierce and is open to all LEPs, but we have put forward a strong argument that demonstrates how we can make the European money go even further with some targeted investment from complementary funding pots like the Local Growth Fund.

By combining EU money with existing national and local public funds, this will act as a catalyst for significant private sector investment so that in total we believe Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will see around £1 billion invested in the next seven years.

We are challenging the Government to share in our vision of the future and look forward to negotiating the best possible Growth Deal for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the coming months.

In tandem with this process we have recently received formal feedback from Government on our outline investment plans for the next EU programme, and are clarifying areas where further work is required. We do not expect the UK Government to conclude its final negotiations with the European Commission about the new programme until at least the autumn, which means it will be early 2015 before any investments can be made.

We're very conscious that we have not been able to say more about how the next programme will operate in practice and that's because we are still in the midst of negotiations with Government. But as soon as we do know more rest assured that we will communicate it immediately.

In the meantime we are doing as much as we can to prepare for when the programme officially opens so that we can minimise any gap between the end of current EU-funded programmes at the end of March 2015, and the start of new ones.

If you have an idea for a project please read the LEP's EU investment strategy here to help inform your ideas and make sure they fit with the broader ambition of the programme which is based around the themes of Future Economy, Growth for Business and Conditions for Growth.

In other recent developments we were delighted to see the Government commit to fund the full four-year duration of a Public Service Obligation for the Newquay to London air link, which is something we have been pressing for. What is important now is that through the tender process we secure an airline operator that can deliver a schedule that works for business, into a London hub airport.

We have also had good news for Aerohub, with work starting on a new hangar for UK-based aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company Apple Aviation, and confirmation that CIS (UK) Ltd, an international provider of modular buildings, has chosen Aerohub as its UK base.

Apple Aviation hopes to have 22 staff on site by the end of the year and CIS expects to create between 20 and 25 jobs, adding to the 148 jobs already attracted to the Aerohub Enterprise Zone since it went live in April 2012. In last month's Budget the Chancellor confirmed that businesses locating to Aerohub will benefit from tax breaks for a further three years to 2018, which is a welcome incentive to inward investors.

There has also been some excellent news for marine renewable energy in the region with the announcement that the Wave Hub offshore test facility based in Hayle has filled its fourth and final berth with a commitment from Australian company Carnegie Wave Energy. This adds to other customers from Finland and the UK and puts Wave Hub at the forefront of wave energy array testing globally. Each of these customers is also committed to using our excellent local supply chain so we expect Wave Hub to be a significant catalyst for growth in the sector in the next few years as projects come on stream.

Looking ahead we have much to do as we continue to shape the new European Programme and negotiate our Growth Deal with Ministers, including more autonomy for decision making which is central to Government economic policy and is widely supported by the private sector. I believe that in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we have already proved our credentials for more responsibilities and that is the case we will continue to press.