Stoke Staffs LEP
Small Business Minister to speak at LEP conference
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Small Business Minister to speak at LEP conference

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is delighted to announce that Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst MP will be the keynote speaker at our Annual Conference on Friday January 18, 2019.

The event, at Uttoxeter Racecourse, Uttoxeter, ST14 8BD, will be an opportunity for local businesses to hear first-hand from the Minister responsible for policy areas including small business, consumers and corporate responsibility.

Kelly Tolhurst, a businesswoman who began her career working in her father’s boatyard before moving into marketing and then founding her own marine survey business in 2008, has been MP for Rochester and Strood since 2015. She was appointed to her current role in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in July.

LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “We are delighted that Kelly Tolhurst has found the time in her very busy schedule to speak at our conference and we look forward to showcasing the best of our region’s successful businesses at the event.

“This will also be great opportunity to hear the latest thinking from a Government Minister on business issues, and to promote the work of the businesses and organisations driving innovation, skills and economic growth across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.”

The conference, which is free to attend, runs from 9.15am to 12.30pm, followed by lunch and networking, and is open to representatives from all businesses throughout Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and to organisations working with the business community.

Our second keynote speaker is Lorna Pimlott, head of policy with HS2 Phase 2, who will be talking about the economic transformation the project will bring, plus skills and procurement opportunities during its construction.

If you would like to attend please contact LEP office manager Julie Frost at or 01785 719002.

Download the agenda here: SSLEP Jan 2019 Conference Agenda

Other speakers at the event include business leaders from award-winning local firms including:

  • LEP vice chairman Alun Rogers, founder of Stafford-based IT firm risual, who will be speaking about shaping the economy of the future and the growing importance of the digital sector.
  • Suzanne Edwards and Steve Wileman, founders of Tamworth-based Enlighten, winner of the Best Digital Business 2018 and Most Promising Start-up 2016, Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards, who will be talking about starting a business in Staffordshire.
  • Carol Shanahan, MD of Synectics Solutions, multi award-winning data management and software business, Staffordshire Business of the Year 2017, who will be talking about business and community.
  • Tony Millar, director of Staffordshire Moorlands firm Great Grounds, which combines landscaping and design work with educational programmes for schoolchildren.

The conference will be introduced by LEP chairman David Frost, who will give a round-up of the LEP’s achievements to date in boosting growth, creating jobs and raising skills levels in the local economy, and its ambitions for the future. There will also be presentations from Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council and Cllr Abi Brown, deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

“The LEP continues to build on its solid foundation of successful project delivery throughout the area with exciting ongoing plans to promote growth and help our economy and communities to thrive,” David Frost commented.

“Recent achievements include the completion of major infrastructure works opening up sites including Four Ashes, South Staffordshire, and Branston Locks, Burton-upon-Trent, for business use, plus an award-winning scheme protecting Rugeley town centre from flooding and paving the way for new jobs and homes.

“We are also seeing development gathering pace at our Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, and work starting on the pioneering Smart Energy Network at Keele.

“In addition we are investing to create the highly skilled workforce of the future through our advanced manufacturing and engineering skills hubs at FE colleges. All these initiatives are translating into real benefits in terms of employment and quality of life.

“We are very keen to hear the views of our local businesses so we can continue to maximise the benefits of economic growth for everyone in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. The morning will include ample opportunities to put questions and discuss issues with LEP board members, as well as networking with other businesses.”