Approval of new strategy that aims to boost Shropshire’s economy
A new and ambitious strategy that outlines how Shropshire Council and its partners will work together to grow the economy of Shropshire over the next five years has been approved by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet today (12 July 2017).
The economic growth strategy 2017 – 2021 sets out a new direction for economic growth in Shropshire and defines how, over the coming years, Shropshire Council and its partners will work together to achieve sustainable new growth in the county’s economy.
Building on the special and valuable assets of Shropshire including its talent, natural and historic assets and successful businesses, the strategy places a clear focus on increasing economic activity and output by prioritising work on the county’s key sectors and transformational opportunities.
Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for economic growth, said:
“Economic growth is one of the key priorities within the council’s Corporate Plan and we recognise that the council has a significant role to play in supporting the successful and sustainable growth of Shropshire’s economy.
“We are delighted to launch our exciting new Economic Growth Strategy, which represents an exciting milestone and provides a clear direction for economic growth in Shropshire over the next five years.
“The final strategy presents the opportunity for the council to be bold, committed and focused in its leadership role and to generate growth for the benefit and prosperity of its businesses and residents over the next five years.
“I thank all who responded to the consultation, and look forward to working with all or our partners, businesses and communities to deliver the actions we have set out and achieve results for our special county.”
Gemma Davies, head of economic growth with Shropshire Council, said:
“With Shropshire Business Board, we will support our existing businesses to stay and grow, as well as new businesses to start up and develop new products. The Marches Growth Hub Shropshire has already seen almost 2,000 individuals either wishing to launch a new business or grow their existing business, during its first year, and we will continue to build on this model.
“We are actively working on a number of key major projects with delivery partners and stakeholders including the Flaxmill Maltings in Shrewsbury and the development of plans for an Innovation Park at Oswestry. We have many more projects in the pipeline with private and public sector partners that will form a clear programme of priorities over the coming weeks for delivery over the next 5 to 10 years.
“We are working collaboratively with our colleges, Universities and training providers and we will do more of this going forward, supporting skills development that meet the current and future requirements of our businesses. We will work increasingly with schools as well to introduce business champions and highlight the opportunities Shropshire has to offer for careers to our young people.”
Graham Wynn, Chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said:
“Shropshire plays a vital part in the wider Marches region and the council’s commitment to maximising economic growth is to be applauded.
“The Marches LEP wholeheartedly supports the prominence given to collaborative working with partner organisations in this strategy. Indeed, our collective track record of delivering schemes which really make a difference to both the people who live and work here, as well as those we wish to attract to the region, is one that we’re all proud of. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at Shropshire Council to see the county and wider region flourish and strengthen its economic vitality.”
Mandy Thorn MBE, Chair of Shropshire Business Board, said:
“The Economic Growth Strategy provides a clear directive for achieving increased economic productivity and strong economic growth. The Business Board looks forward to continuing to work closely with the council to support the delivery of this strategy to ensure a resilient and prosperous Shropshire economy for everyone.”
A draft version of the strategy was consulted on for several weeks between early March and the end of April 2017 to give businesses, stakeholders, town and parish councils, statutory bodies, communities and residents, the opportunity to comment and help shape this important milestone document.
A number of town and parish councils engaged actively in this consultation and Shropshire Council will be working with the county’s key market towns to understand their priorities for economic growth and to support key sectors, particularly the visitor economy.
Comments were also received from business leaders, community groups and the voluntary and social sector. All have been carefully considered and have helped to inform the final strategy, which will be launched at a business leaders’ and stakeholders event in September.
To see the strategy, click here.
Creating a prosperous economy is one of the three high-level outcomes in Shropshire Council’s Corporate Plan 2016/17 to 2018/19. Developing a “clear economic vision and strategy” is a key milestone in setting out the council’s commitment and ambition to grow the local economy and deliver this outcome.
The draft Economic Growth Strategy was presented to Cabinet on 1 March 2017. A seven-week period of consultation was then carried out 13 March to 28 April.
About the consultation
Over 4,000 individuals were notified of the opportunity to comment on the draft strategy including businesses, stakeholders, town and parish councils, statutory bodies, communities and residents. During the consultation period 25 face to face meetings and presentations were delivered and a further 21 organisations and networks were formally written to alerting them of the consultation.
The consultation exercise resulted in a response of 46 surveys and 26 written responses. There was a good geographical spread of participants from across the county reflecting both urban and rural areas. Many of these written responses were very thorough and included a number of detailed points. The analysis of the responses from participants showed broad support for the six priorities and vision with common themes emerging, these include:
- Communities and town and parish councils want to be engaged going forward.
- The vision should be simpler, punchy and powerful.
- Greater emphasis on skills, employment and health linkages.
- Historic assets and natural environment should be made clearer and importance of green infrastructure highlighted.
- Add more about business start-ups and their importance to the Shropshire economy.
- Impacts and opportunities of Brexit.
- Community focused businesses and social enterprises should be referenced.
- Greater importance of visitor economy and agricultural sectors.
- Ageing demographic as an opportunity for economic activity.
- Council needs to communicate more effectively.
- The importance of building economic and strategic partnerships.
- Balancing investment and growth with protecting natural and rural environment.