2016 will be remembered for the big political shock of the EU referendum decision. It has dominated the headlines and will occupy most of the Government through next year and beyond.
As a business community, we must play our part in shaping the UK’s economic future outside the EU. As a region, we must not let the interests of the City of London and the devolved nations – important though they are – override our own.
It is more important than ever that we work together throughout Yorkshire and Humber, and the North, to present our case and ensure that we are not forgotten in whatever deal may be done.
But throughout this period of uncertainty, when Government has little cash and little capacity to do anything else, we must also not let up the pace on delivering the things that are in our control and pushing for more influence over the things that are not.
There have been some bright spots in our economy this year which should be celebrated, such as:
After a period of uncertainty, the future of steel making in Scunthorpe is now more secure, under the name of British Steel
Construction got under way on RB’s new Centre for Scientific Excellence in Hull
Earlier this month the £310m investment by Siemens and ABP in Green Port Hull was officially opened, with the first wind turbine blade coming off the production line
Grimsby has continued to shine as a centre for offshore wind maintenance, benefitting from major investments such as by DONG.
The CBI recently highlighted that Hull’s productivity has grown fastest in Yorkshire and the Humber over a ten-year period, well ahead of the national average.
This year the Humber LEP, with our many partners, has also made progress on our three core ambitions: a skilled and productive workforce, an infrastructure that supports growth and thriving successful businesses.
We have made significant progress towards our ambition of having a skills system better aligned to current and future needs. Fifteen education providers have reached the Humber Gold Standard for high quality impartial provision of careers services, with 35 currently working towards, as we plan for £1m of further investment.
The Humber Apprenticeship Support Service pilot saw 157 new jobs created alongside an additional 26 graduate internships, allowing us to make a significant investment of £1m in developing a new Apprenticeship Growth Programme.
The new £6m Skills Support for the Workforce programme will deliver training to increase SME productivity, designed according to the needs of individual businesses.
On infrastructure, our Growth Deal programme has gathered momentum with more new projects started and several completed. From flood defences at Paull, to new housing in Hull, to road improvements at locations across the region, the impact of the programme is now being felt. Construction work will continue through 2017, and we also look forward to the outcome of our bid to Government for a third Growth Deal.
This contained more projects, prioritised by business and council leaders, which will help to spur on the growth of the Humber economy.
Our work on business development has also continued to show results in 2016. Funding from the LEP’s extended Growing the Humber scheme has been used to invest in more than 75 SMEs since April 2015. Importantly, the decisions are made by businesspeople who know their local economy.
Beneficiaries have already created over 152 jobs to date, and with the number set to rise into 2017 we expect to once again exceed our target.
Our Growth Hub has also had another successful year assisting local businesses to access funding and effective support, helping them start up and grow.
Our independent business advisers based across the region offer a free business diagnostic service and engaged with over 500 companies during 2016. Support is also available through the Growth Hub website.
With the Humber well established as the Energy Estuary and Hull’s year as UK City of Culture almost upon us, we are also seeing more and more interest in investing in our area. The progress our region has made this year shows what can be achieved by working in partnership.
As we face the uncertainties and new opportunities that 2017 will bring, it is this shared commitment that will give us a strong foundation for the future.
Hull Venue to be top attraction
The Humber LEP has secured £114m to date from Growth Deals with Government.
One of the projects under way is the Hull Venue, a £36.2m major events facility which will be a City of Culture legacy project.
This particular project will deliver a flexible space venue with performance, conference and exhibition capabilities intended to interact with the city, attract visitors and business tourists and boost the local economy.
As at December 2016, demolition and site clearance works were complete with piling underway.
The project is receiving £3m Growth Deal funding and is due to be completed in 2018.