The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has hailed its annual conference as a great success after welcoming more than 180 representatives from local businesses and partner organisations to the event at Yarnfield Park, Stone today, October 20.
The event gave delegates the opportunity to hear first-hand from the businesses and organisations driving innovation, skills and economic growth across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and to celebrate progress towards the LEP’s aim of delivering 50,000 jobs and a 50 per cent increase in GVA by 2021.
LEP chairman David Frost CBE commented: “The conference was an opportunity for the LEP to explain its priorities and the way it is working with its partners to engage with all sectors of the economy in Stoke and Staffordshire.
“We were pleased to see so many people here and to have a very constructive discussion on how we can work together to maximise the benefits of economic growth for all the people living and working in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.”
Mr Frost outlined the key priorities for the LEP, including infrastructure and transport investment to unlock industrial and commercial development sites at Lichfield Park, Bericote Four Ashes, Meaford, near Stone, Branston Locks, near Burton, and Etruria Valley, Stoke.
The LEP is also investing in a new Stafford western access road and in town centre improvements in Tamworth, Lichfeld, Rugeley and Leek.
A new Advanced Manufacturing Skills Hub is creating new education and training opportunities delivered by FE colleges and other training providers in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stafford, Rodbaston, Uttoxeter and Tamworth. Meanwhile a new concordat between the LEP and Keele and Staffordshire universities aims to drive innovation and research opportunities.
Keynote speakers at the conference included Mark Berrisford-Smith, Head of Economics, HSBC UK Commercial Banking, who gave a presentation on economic prospects and the challenge of rebalancing the UK economy and boosting growth in the Midlands.
There was also a presentation by Alun Rogers, director of award-winning Stafford-based ICT firm risual, with training manager Tina Jones, on the work it is doing to boost skills and nurture the staff of the future.
The conference was introduced by Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council and Cllr Abi Brown, deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and there were also presentations from some of the LEP board members and partners leading on the delivery of a range of innovative projects benefitting our area.
Speakers included John Carr, director of Barrington Engineering, who spoke about the area’s world-leading energy projects, South Staffordshire College principal Graham Morley on skills development, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council chief executive John Sellgren on better regulation, Johnathan Dale, director of Denova International, on the support the LEP’s Growth Hub is giving to business, and Keele deputy vice chancellor Professor Mark Ormerod on innovation.
“Having secured Government backing for our Strategic Economic Plan, the Enterprise Partnership is now in an exciting period where our ambitions are being underpinned by real projects and delivery throughout the area,” David Frost said.