County's business leaders set new horizons in Burnley
Laying the foundations and setting new horizons for Lancashire's economy was the theme of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership's (LEP) annual conference which took place at the Crow Wood Hotel in Burnley.
Over 150 delegates attended the event, which welcomed an array of speakers who reflected on the last year and the challenges associated with the pandemic, as well as looking forward to some of the exciting opportunities which are emerging through national policy agendas and game-changing projects. All of which will have a positive impact on the county over the next decade and beyond.
Sarah Kemp, chief executive officer of the LEP, said: ''Whilst Covid-19 was naturally very challenging for businesses in Lancashire, and indeed the rest of the country, many of our businesses have demonstrated incredible resilience and entrepreneurial flair during these unprecedented times. Indeed, three years' worth of innovation happened within just three months of the pandemic, which is phenomenal and shows the fighting spirit which is prevalent in the county and which will enable us to achieve our growth ambitions.
''The LEP's conference was a celebration of what can be accomplished during adversity and by working in partnership, and provided the opportunity to not only reflect on what has been achieved during the past 18 months, but also to highlight the considerable opportunities for economic growth which are emerging for the county and from which our businesses and residents can benefit.
''Challenges remain and will do so for some time, but since its inception ten years ago, the LEP has worked with partners and industry leaders to lay the foundations to address these challenges and secure the future success of Lancashire's economy.''
Debbie Francis OBE and chair of the LEP added: ''The aim of the conference was to generate excitement and positivity as to what can be achieved by taking a collaborative and partnership approach to increasing economic prosperity.
"Lancashire has a wealth of capabilities and expertise and we need to ensure our businesses and residents are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to capitalise on opportunities such as the Net Zero agenda, as well as transformational projects such as Eden North and it was brilliant that the chief executive of Eden International, David Harland, was able to attend the conference to outline the vision for the project. '
"These truly are exciting times for Lancashire, which as a county has so much to offer. Whilst we have made good progress over the last ten years, and the effects of the pandemic are still very much prevalent, especially in sectors such as tourism and hospitality, Lancashire continues to punch below its weight. But we are on the cusp of change. We have laid the foundations by investing over £350m to help partners deliver capital and infrastructure projects, as well as backing business support agencies such Boost and the Lancashire Skills Hub."
The positive impact of these are now emerging, with over 19,006 new jobs created or safeguarded and nearly 5,000 SMEs supported with their growth ambitions.
"Whilst these are fantastic achievement, I believe that the best is yet to come. By working with partners and businesses, I am confident that we can build a stronger, fairer and more prosperous region by setting new horizons for Lancashire's economy."
As part of the LEP's commitment to contributing to climate change and in the lead up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, delegates were also encouraged to contribute to the Ribble Trust's Lancashire Woodland Connect campaign which aims to more than double the woodland coverage in Lancashire.
To date, donations have been received through the LEP which will enable 105 trees to be planted in Lancashire. Further donations are welcome and can be made via the following link: https://ribbletrust.org.uk/lep-trees/