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30 October 2014

Liverpool City Region’s Resurgent Economy

Robert Hough, Chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) discusses Liverpool City Region’s Resurgent Economy...

Robert Hough


As Chair of the Liverpool City Region's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), I am delighted to contribute to this edition of The North West Fund's newsletter.

Since I last contributed in 2012, much has changed particularly the around what role LEPs play in delivering substantial and sustained growth for our economy.  How do we accelerate the rate of growth in our economy and substantially quicken the rate of improvement in productivity?

For Liverpool City Region, recent figures are very encouraging - growth is already happening.  Over the last five years, during the most severe financial and economic crisis in the UK since the 1920s, Liverpool City Region's economy has out-performed pretty much every LEP area of England outside London, and also the UK average, by some considerable margin. Our economy actually grew by over 10% during this period (2007-2012) - as measured by Gross Value Added (GVA) where many others have contracted.

So just what has driven this impressive economic performance? The answers are varied.

Cammell Laird, the world famous shipbuilders in Wirral, is making a substantial contribution to the offshore windfarm market together with global energy companies and a cluster of smaller suppliers.  Sci-Tech Daresbury in Halton, is expanding rapidly with its world recognised science base. Our universities and specialist institutions are recognised for tropical medicine, oceanography, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, pharmacology and
much more. 

A key driver of our economy is our Ports and Logistics Sector. SUPERPORT is creating a Global Freight and Logistics Hub for Northern UK, centred on the City Region. This is being driven by £1 billion of investment in port and logistics assets including Liverpool2 - a new deep water port - and the Mersey Gateway, a £600m project to deliver a new Mersey crossing.

Alongside major exporters like Jaguar Land Rover, we are supporting local smaller businesses to realise their export potential through our New Markets Programme, funded through ERDF. Like many Northern UK economies, too many of our businesses trade predominantly locally and regionally. Our New Markets Programme helps businesses gear up to tackle national and international markets, by finding appropriate commercial advice
and support to enable them to achieve their potential.

Our Business Growth Grant programme has so far contracted with 35 businesses to generate and secure over 1,000 jobs in the City Region. Grants totalling over £7million are leveraging a further £35million in private sector investment funding projects as diverse as expanded production facilities, software upgrades and the purchase of new machinery. These grants are designed to unlock private sector investment in the region and it is
perfectly clear that this is happening.

We have also developed an online service www.advicefinder.co.uk to help businesses find the right adviser from the many commercial providers in the market. Our aim is for these matchmaking services to stimulate the take-up of high quality, commercial, value added advice - supporting business growth whilst growing the professional services market in the City Region.

Finance for business growth in the City Region is an important priority for us and this is why we have included a specific 'funding' section within our AdviceFinder web tool. The North West Fund represents a significant resource for local businesses and we are committed to working closely with The Fund and its fund managers to maximise the uptake of their available funds in the City Region.

Our focus as a LEP and a City Region is on being clear what we are good at, then supporting and investing in it, through a business-led partnership with the public sector. 

Despite the excellent progress we have made in recent years, there still remains much to do - not least in increasing business density and improving skills and employment levels. No easy tasks these and we know it will require a sustained and focussed approach to delivering these goals.

But we're getting used to doing that and with our LEP Members, and our partners in business and our Local Authorities, Universities and Colleges, we are working together to continue our City Region's remarkable economic transformation.  

For more information on Liverpool City Region LEP's New Markets Programme please contact the Commercial Broker Team on newmarkets@liverpoollep.org


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