The Head of Economic Development and Regeneration for North Worcestershire presented the North Worcestershire Economic Growth Strategy. During the presentation of this report the following points were highlighted for Members’ consideration:
· The strategy had been developed in accordance with key national and local economic development priorities.
· The review had occurred at a time when nationally a review was being undertaken of the boundaries for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
· In each LEP area there was a Local Industrial Strategy and a Shared Prosperity Fund. The funding from this stream would help to support projects and initiatives in the country following the UK’s departure from the EU.
· The Shared Prosperity Fund would be distributed by the LEPs. Therefore, it was important to have a local Economic Development Strategy that matched the aims and objectives of the LEP in order to secure funding from this source.
· Investment Managers working in the local investment market advised their clients on whether to invest in opportunities based on three key considerations; local talent and skills, quality premises and technology.
· Redditch was considered an attractive place for business from a technology perspective as there was an excellent fibre network and it was possible that the town would be involved in the introduction of the 5G network.
· However, there was a lot more to do in respect of skills in the local workforce.
· Automation had been identified as a risk to employment in the Borough. Automation was a particular risk in areas such as manufacturing, retail and wholesale businesses and 46% of employment in Redditch was in these sectors.
· The Government had asked LEPs to identify projects that could be taken forward under local strategy delivery plans and it was possible that Redditch would benefit from this initiative.
Once the report had been presented Members discussed the following matters in detail:
· The average qualifications of Redditch residents. Members expressed concern that only 21% of the population had achieved NVQ level 4 or equivalent qualifications compared to 45% of residents in Bromsgrove district and 38% of the population nationally.
· The good digital connectivity in the Borough and the opportunities that this could present for the Redditch economy.
· The progress that had been achieved with the LEP review. Members were informed that letters had been submitted according to deadline in respect of this review but it was anticipated that no announcement would be made by the Government on LEP membership until later in the month.
· The Towns’ Fund and the extent to which progress had been achieved with convening a meeting of the Redditch Town’s Fund Board prior to the Government’s deadline of 31st January 2020. Officers advised that a meeting of the Board was due to take place on 30th January 2020.
· The membership of the Town’s Fund Board. The Committee was advised that a number of organisations and individuals had been invited to appoint representatives to serve on the Board. However, the final membership remained to be confirmed.
· The guidance in respect of the role of the Town’s Fund Board which had not yet been published by the Government.
· The progress that had been achieved by the Council already in terms of the town centre regeneration work and the advantage that this would provide in terms of the potential to access funding from the Towns’ Fund in the future.
· The techniques that had been used by the Council to interact with local business leaders. Members were advised that the Council had worked with and supported a number of local businesses.
· The work of Metis Aerospace, based in Redditch, which had launched the first Wifi 6 business trial in the world.
· The work of Astwood Infrastructure which produced equipment for vertical farming and also managed a microbrewery.
the report and its strategic priorities and interventions be agreed.