LEP heads: Seize the opportunity of Oxford-MK-Cambridge ArcOct 03, 2019
(from left) MKBLP chair nick Mann; SeMLEP chief executive Hilary Chipping; MKBLP director Jean Gowin; BTVLEP chief executive Richard Harrington.
BUSINESS must harness the power and opportunities of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor and use them to increase both their own productivity and the wider regional economy.
Collaboration is key, the heads of two Local Enterprise Partnerships have told business leaders, in particular in developing an employer-led strategy to improve skills levels and to encourage the brightest talent to remain working locally.
That will involve local businesses and universities working together to create a pipeline of skills to match the future needs of employers, particularly in the digital and wider STEM sectors.
Hilary Chipping, chief executive of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, and her counterpart at the Buckinghamshire & Thames Valley LEP Richard Harrington were speaking at a dinner hosted by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership.
Their presentation followed the launch last month of four Industrial Strategies across the growth corridor designed to boost the Oxford-Cambridge Arc initiative.
Ms Chipping said that Milton Keynes is already making key strides in delivering strands within the strategies, from sustainable digital infrastructure, with the installation of full fibre connectivity, to mobility. Defined as reducing carbon emissions and congestion, while making it available to all, Milton Keynes is ahead in the mobility stakes with the most electric vehicle charging stations and the highest uptakes of electric and hybrid vehicles.
She added: “The role of the Local Industrial Strategy is not to dictate how the Arc prospers but rather to facilitate it, with a focus on increasing productivity across all sectors and geographies within the SEMLEP area.”
Mr Harrington stressed that businesses locally are part of a greater eco-system. “Milton Keynes is a great city but couple its gross value added with that of Buckingham and we have the biggest GVA contributor within the Arc, with the highest productivity rate,” he said.
“We are not just the bit in the middle but a really powerful core of the Arc.”
Buckinghamshire has always been in the top five of the most productive counties in the UK, with the highest employment rate, but the position is worsening. Mr Harrington urged business leaders to work collaboratively and take advantage of the full strength of the Arc to sustain, and ultimately boost, the business economy.
Both speakers called on businesses to play their part in delivering the strategy and to become ambassadors for the Arc.