Face up to the challenge
I am writing this blog as I travel on the train to London to a meeting with a senior minister at government. As I prepare papers for my meeting, I reflect on the last few days spent meeting with business leaders from across the Sheffield City Region.
This month the LEP held its first Business Breakfast event, which brought together over 40 business leaders, keen to find out more and help shape the Growth Plan. The event generated some important insights, particularly around the importance of our export markets and access to finance, which must be important themes in our plan.
Also this month, the LEP is holding three events to kickstart sector groups for key growth business markets: creative & digital, logistics and business, financial & professional services. At the first of these events, business leaders from the creative & digital sector decided on the spot how their group should be run and are now working with the LEP to get moving quickly. This is really welcome given the importance of digital to all business sectors, and the importance of creative industries to UK plc.
Constructively challenging ways of thinking is not always easy, but challenging is a vital part of what our sector groups must do for the LEP, so that we in turn can tackle obstacles and identify innovations which will bring economic growth. Through our Growth Plan, the LEP Board knows that it will be challenged by business, and in turn, when I meet with the minister in a few hours’ time, I know that I must challenge him also on his thinking about the allocation of European funds within the UK.
When the Chancellor makes his 2015-16 spending review on Thursday this week (June 26), he is widely expected to prolong his deficit-reduction programme. As the public sector continues to retrench, it has become clearer than ever that economic growth will only come from the private sector. That is why it is so important that our Growth Plan is led by the private sector.