Digital industries are vital to Leeds City Region, LEP says

THE DIGITAL age is at the “epicentre” of Leeds City Region’s growth aims, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman Roger Marsh has said.

Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership

It comes as the LEP announced a further £100,000 digital skills support for small and medium-sized businesses in the Leeds City Region.

The funding is in addition to the £573m from the Regional Growth Fund

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Speaking at a Leeds Google event, backed by Superconnected Leeds Bradford, BPiF CDi PrintYorkshire and Superfast West Yorkshire Business, Mr Marsh said creative and digital industries are one of the six key sectors identified by the LEP in its growth plan.

According to figures from CDi PrintYorkshire, digital and creative industries employ around 123,000 in the region and contribute £5bn to the economy.

Mr Marsh said backing the sector “is about unlocking potential and accelerating growth”.

“It’s important for me to get people across the city region - this is the largest economy outside London, over three million people - to understand what we can do, not just for local advantage, but for national advantage,” he said.

Mr Marsh said the public are currently “inheritors of the effects of recession”, which must be reversed for future prosperity.

He said: “The country’s balance sheet has three times the national debt there was in 2008.

“For me, that’s an unacceptable thing to leave to the next generation.”

While the Government is focused on the economic deficit, the LEP board is focused on debt reduction, Mr Marsh said.

“It’s about taking the right steps over a number of years to transfer the economy of this city region from a net taker to a net contributor,” he said.

In its strategic economic plan, the LEP aims to create an additional £5.25bn in economic output and an additional 62,000 over a 10 year period.

This will bring £675m in benefit savings to the Exchequer and mean the region is contributing more to the economy than it is taking in spending.

Mr Marsh said the LEP’s support helps build “21st century businesses that are capable of sustaining themselves”.

He said: “The rule of the LEP is very simple: it’s about how to enable growth.

“Government of any colour will want to get behind that.”

Martin Boddy, chief executive of award-winning digital agency Jaywing, said data skills a vital to any business in a digital era.

He said: “Everything that we do now creates data and it’s the understanding of that data that is important.”

He added: “If you have a digital element to your business, you will be far more attractive to funders.”