The achievements of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership in bringing jobs and growth to the area have been showcased at the LEP’s annual conference.
More than 200 representatives from local businesses and organisations attended the conference on Friday to hear a keynote address from Small Business Minister Margot James MP, plus a range of other speakers.
The Minister praised the achievements of the LEP, which has recently won an award from the Federation of Small Businesses for its work in streamlining business regulation.
Margot James commented: “As local growth champion for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire it’s great to return here and speak at the LEP annual conference.
“The government is developing an industrial strategy to serve the whole of the UK and I want to know which issues really matter to local businesses here in Stoke and Staffordshire. This conference is therefore a great opportunity to hear first-hand from them about how we can ensure we develop a strategy that works for business and employees.”
LEP chairman David Frost said he was delighted that the Minister was taking such a keen interest in the area.
“We are very pleased that she has found time in her busy schedule to visit our area twice already since her appointment in July,” he said. “We are looking forward to a constructive, positive partnership with our local growth champion in government to help us create a thriving local economy and flourishing communities.”
During her day in Staffordshire, Margot James also visited Dunston Business Village, near Penkridge, which was launched with the help of the LEP’s Growing Places Fund, and is now home to 55 businesses.
The LEP’s conference, held at Yarnfield Park, near Stone, showcased Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s successes in project delivery, jobs and growth, which has included road and infrastructure works to open up key employment sites for development and the launch of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, which has the potential to create up to 9,000 jobs on six strategic sites along the A500 corridor.
LEP chairman David Frost listed a series of completed projects including Liberty Park, Lichfield, where the infrastructure works involved building a new road bridge over the West Coast main rail line; Meaford Business Park, near Stone, where new road junctions and other infrastructure works have opened up an 85-acre brownfield site with 1.2 million sq ft of development space; and a new access road from the A449 at Four Ashes in South Staffordshire, assisting the planned move of car components manufacturer Gestamp to new purpose-built premises.
Other speakers at the conference included Staffordshire County Council leader Cllr Philip Atkins, who highlighted progress on a 50-acre employment site, plus housing and community facilities at Branston Locks, near Burton: Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader Cllr Abi Brown, who outlined the city’s growth ambitions and City of Culture bid; GE Power vice president Steve Burgin, and Dave Atkinson, head of UK manufacturing with Lloyds Banking Group.