Dorset LEP’s business conference addresses Dorset’s £2.5 billion productivity challenge
Transport and skills cited as region’s major impediments to economic growth
Businesses from across Dorset convened at Dorset Local Enterprise’s inaugural business conference to hear about the region’s economic climate, challenges and opportunities and to discuss and debate the economic strategy and outlook for the future.
Delegates heard from speakers including Conor Burns MP who spoke about the government’s Industrial Strategy and Dorset’s way to growth, Nigel Jump (Professor of Regional Economic Development at Bournemouth University) who spoke about Dorset’s economic context and challenges and Jim Stewart (Chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership) who outlined Dorset LEP’s ambition and vision for Dorset. Set in the context of Dorset’s economic productivity being £2.5 billion below the national average, Dorset LEP focused on the need to boost the region’s productivity and earning power by building on its strengths, keeping employment high and making Dorset more innovative and competitive.
The conference celebrated Dorset LEP’s success to date in securing £234 million for growth and regeneration, £79.4 million from the European Structural and Investment Fund and leveraging £254.3 million private investment for Dorset. The event also provided a useful opportunity to gauge business sentiment about key issues facing Dorset’s economy with a lively question and answer session as well as a delegate voting session.
Transport links were cited as Dorset’s number one impediment to business growth followed by recruitment, housing and broadband access. When delegates were asked what could be done to improve inward investment into Dorset, improving the region’s physical infrastructure and workforce skills were again listed as the top two priorities.
Jim Stewart, Chair, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said:
“Dorset is already making a £17 billion contribution to the UK economy, however the next challenge is to heighten our ambition, energise our economy and close the £2.5 billion productivity gap. We can do this by enhancing enterprise and innovation, increasing our competitiveness, investing in infrastructure and creating a more highly-skilled, productive workforce.
“The key is for businesses, political leaders and key organisations to work together with Dorset LEP in order to achieve a higher level of government funding, improve infrastructure and generate greater opportunities for Dorset.”
Dorset LEP’s Business Forum was also launched at the event – a new business community group aimed at strengthening the voice and representation of business within Dorset LEP.