As we begin 2016 there is an air of optimism from businesses in the Humber and wider region.
Last year saw a year of delivery across key projects and programmes and we want to thank our partners for their work across a varied portfolio, and to the business members who give their time and expertise on our boards, groups and forums.
This excellent partnership work in the Humber has seen millions of pounds of devolved funding that has leveraged millions more in public and private investment to begin projects, which are driving the growth of the Humber economy.
This year will be a decisive one with three large issues that could change the way we do things.
1.In 2016, we need to be clear on Energy Policy and be ready to grasp the opportunities. Energy policy is becoming clearer especially for offshore wind so it is time to see further big steps in investments and make sure we are leading investment and research into renewable technology. We’ll be working with The University of Hull and other partners to make this happen.
2.The debate on devolution must not derail the important and enormous opportunity to develop the Humber’s economy. It is critical that the Humber as a whole is engaging with the Northern Powerhouse and that the clear selling points of the Humber as a place to invest are not lost among the debates.
There will be a resolution this year and it is essential the Humber must remain a key focus whatever the outcome of the devolution debate.
3. And with the European Union Referendum looming we need to be prepared for any changes to the way we do business and bring in funding.
2016 is also a chance to build on the successes of 2015 which saw a further £9.9m to our previous £113m Growth Deal funding. And we are currently looking for new pipeline projects that help us to bid for future funding and achieve the Humber’s strategic aims – a skilled and productive workforce, thriving successful businesses and an infrastructure that supports growth.
We will continue to support businesses through our Business Growth Hub and grant and loan programmes all of which are hitting and exceeding targets.
Our skills and employment activity is being recognised nationally for our work on CEIAG (careers), apprenticeships, traineeships and more recently our approach to a skills gap linked to older workers with our 50+ conference. We also saw in 2015 the launch of Modal Training the first organisation in the UK to offer integrated, multimodal logistics training for sea, road, rail and air, led by Grimsby Institute and with support via the Humber LEP’s Growth Deal.
We were pleased to welcome the significant extension to our Enterprise Zone, and our contribution (subject to EU funds) to the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund that will benefit small businesses, set out by the Chancellor in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement.
But there is still a lot to continue to do in partnership to ensure we are able to help the region achieve the enormous potential for economic development in the Humber.
There’s much to gain or lose in 2016 and by working together we can make sure we do the best for the Humber’s economy.