The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership’s Economic Recovery Summit has highlighted a range of priorities for rebuilding the region’s economy and helping its business community recover from the impact of the virus.
The summit – the culmination of last week's LEP’s Business Recovery Week – brought together nearly 100 members of the business community and leading local and regional partners, including local authorities, business board representatives, both Shropshire and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chambers of Commerce, the British Business Bank, The Federation of Small Businesses and NFU.
During the event guests had the opportunity to take part in a series of polls to highlight key priorities and reflect the state of the Marches economy.
Key findings from the polls included:
– 38 per cent of businesses did not expect to make redundancies in the next 12 months even though 45 per cent were broadly or very pessimistic about the health of the regional economy over the next year.
– 81 per cent thought the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector had been the hardest hit in the region, whilst the same figure also thought the provision of more flexible grant funding from the Government, which was not dependant on job creation, was the one single measure which would help their business most.
– 31 per cent did not think the Government’s new Job Support Scheme would be effective, whilst 27 per cent said it did not apply to them and a further 20 per cent would not use it.
– 81 per cent thought greater innovation and use of new technology would help their businesses prosper whilst 52 per cent thought that increased e-commerce would present a significant business opportunity in the year ahead.
Marches LEP chair Mandy Thorn said Thursday’s event had been highly constructive and given a vital insight into the challenges now facing Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
“We heard evidence from a range of business people, organisations and the public sector about the precise toll the virus and subsequent restrictions have taken on our region.
“Whilst there is obvious concern about the future – and in particular for those businesses which have suffered so much – there was also some optimism about the way the business community has rolled up its sleeves and got to work in the face of the restrictions.
“The summit has helped us make an excellent start to the task of preparing a comprehensive strategy for this region’s recovery which we will present to the Government in the coming months.”
The Marches LEP is the business-led body tasked by the Government with driving economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Its Business Recovery Week saw the launch of its annual report, the unveiling of a new digital strategy for the region, the launch of a new website to help people update their skills and training and find work, and the LEP’s annual public meeting.