Leveraging Private Sector Investment and Increasing Productivity

Our Chairman Barry Dodd CBE has blogged about how leveraging private sector investment and increasing productivity are behind our latest submission to government for Local Growth Deal Funding.

“AS a LEP which can proudly say ‘we are delivering on our existing Local Growth Deal promises’ we have reviewed what is happening in our economy and provided a proposal to government which will deliver 10,000 high value jobs, build 5000 new homes and leverage £500m in private sector investment.

As a region we are doing well. We set ourselves a target of creating 20,000 jobs by 2021, and that target has already been exceeded, whilst our economy has grown by £1.4bn and the rate at which houses are being built has increased by 70 per cent.

What this tells us is that job creation isn’t the challenge; it is creating high value jobs, whilst increasing productivity and wage levels. We need to do everything we can to unlock high value employment sites where there is strong market demand. Jobs are created by growing businesses. Taking an industry led approach is therefore at the heart of our plans.

Our Growth Deal proposal will leverage more private sector investment than before, provide greater value for money and more good quality jobs.

York Central is our new Enterprise Zone. As one of the largest city centre brownfield sites in the UK and located alongside York rail station which provides access to eight of the ten largest UK cities in under two hours, it has huge potential. But it is complex, with access and remediation a challenge. We want to accelerate the infrastructure works, making the site more attractive to private sector investors stimulating 6500 good quality jobs into the city of York and delivering £1bn growth to our economy.

And our transformational opportunities don’t stop there. I have spoken before about the billion pound potash mine being developed at Whitby, and alongside that we are now able to invest to capitalise on other assets along the Yorkshire Coast. Not many people know this, but GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence agency, have a site in Scarborough. Capitalising on national assets such as this, alongside other developments such as a new university and university technical college will be key to creating high value jobs in the area.

Further down the coast in Bridlington, years of planning are coming to fruition to support the development of a new harbour and marina in Bridlington. This will be game changing for the town, providing new waterfront opportunities and linking a new marina with the town centre and Bridlington Spa complex.

The Yorkshire Coast is rapidly becoming the opportunity coast. It retains its fantastic tourist offer, with Scarborough the second most popular UK tourism destination after London, and with the biggest waterpark in the UK opened there just this month, our coast goes from strength to strength. Building on these major improvements in Scarborough alongside Bridlington Marina will accelerate the regeneration of these key seaside towns providing both the quality of life and high value job opportunities which is so important to investors. It provides a great example of how, as York, North Yorkshire and East Riding we can demonstrate ambition across all our partners, something which is so important to making a real difference.

One of the real successes of our current Growth Deal has been our skills capital investments, whereby investments in Harrogate College, Askham Bryan and Selby Colleges have all delivered on budget on time. We want to do more. We know the supply of a high quality workforce is a critical factor for investors. Our plan is to keep investing in our colleges, ensuring they are high quality learning environments providing courses that provide a job ready workforce. Alongside our on-going work to connect businesses into schools and to improve the quality of careers advice, we are developing a skills system which is focused on the needs of our growing businesses and will enable our young people to take the great opportunities now being created in our area.

And finally, we mustn’t forget the impact of the floods on our area last Christmas. The impact on a local economy which is dominated by small and micro businesses can be huge. We are committing £3m of our existing growth deal returns to protect over 300 jobs in Dalton Industrial Estate and in Tadcaster, where the bridge collapse made national headlines. Continuing to invest in flood resilience where it will protect business and open up investment opportunities is crucial.

Skipton is a great example of how this can make a difference. We invested alongside the Environment Agency in our first round of Growth Deal funding to provide some flood defences to the town. On the back of this excellent investment, we are now able to open up the South Skipton Employment Zone, delivering over a thousand high value jobs and leveraging £30m private sector investment.

Together this is a growth deal which will be transformational to York, North Yorkshire and East Riding and as a LEP which is delivering on its promises, I urge government to back our ambition, back our track record and invest in our plan.”