On 13 November over 400 delegates attended the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s 2015 Annual Conference to hear first-hand about recent successes, plans for the future and local business support which includes the announcement of a £2m fund to support business expansion.

The conference, which was over-subscribed three weeks ahead of the event, attracted representatives from the public and third sectors as well as businesses across a range of sectors and sizes and was held at the Chateau Impney in Droitwich.

BBC Midlands Today’s main presenter, Mary Rhodes, hosted the event with keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP and Irene Graham, CEO of the Scale-Up Institute.

Delegates heard first-hand about recent progress with Worcestershire having the third fastest growing economy in recent years and that the most recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown that Worcestershire’s productivity grew by 2.7% between 2012-13, the fastest rate out of all 39 of England’s LEP areas.

Productivity is strongly linked with business innovation and growth, as well as investment in skills and infrastructure, and so this is excellent news for the County, however, the Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Mark Stansfeld, was very clear that they are not complacent and that all partner organisations are working together to bring further economic growth.

The Conference highlighted priorities for the future and where businesses could get support to grow and help to increase productivity further. In addition to the €68m EU Programme that the Worcestershire LEP is responsible for, a new £2m Worcestershire Growth Fund was announced which has been financed by the Government’s Growth Deal with grants of up to £100,000 available although higher levels of support may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

As well as discussion, speakers and networking opportunities, a number of exhibitors took the opportunity to profile themselves to this audience and sponsors included: Hewett Recruitment, Great Western Railway, OGL Computer, Santander Corporate & Commercial, Bishop Fleming LLP and the Business Growth Service.

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It was great to welcome so many businesses, partner organisations and third sector representatives to our 5th Annual Conference.

“The Conference was designed so that all partner organisations could understand plans to bring further economic growth, get more involved in the work of the partnership and for businesses to know about available business support. We were, therefore, glad to be able to announce the £2m Worcestershire Growth Fund at the Conference which will bring further economic growth and jobs across the County.

“Finally, thank you to all delegates, our exhibitors, sponsors and our speakers for all your contributions. There were some great presentations, discussions and inspiring keynote speeches with many attendees expressing that they would like to be further involved in the work of the partnership. This is good news as together we will deliver our 10-Year Strategic Economic Plan as well as working to do more.  We will also work with other LEP areas through the Midlands Engine, and make Worcestershire a modern, forward thinking, and economically successful place to live and work.”

The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Annual Report was also distributed at the Annual Conference and is available from the website at www.wlep.co.uk All information regarding funding, including the Worcestershire Growth Fund, is available from Worcestershire.Business.Central. at www.business-central.co.uk/worcestershiregrowthfund or by calling 01905 677888.

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