Business sets the agenda for the work of The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and the voice of the business community is being heard loud and clear.
That was the message from the LEP at The Business Event 2017, held in Telford, last week when it launched its 2017 annual report.
Nearly 200 attended the event which brought together all of the region’s key business support and networking organisations together for the first time under one roof.
The LEP, the private sector-led organisation tasked with driving economic growth in the region, organised the event working alongside its dedicated business support service, The Marches Growth Hub.
The event kicked off with a well-attended Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and Shropshire Federation of Small Businesses express networking breakfast before hearing from home-grown entrepreneurs, including beauty guru and innovator Deborah Mitchell, of Heaven Skincare.
LEP Chairman Graham Wynn opened the event, saying that the LEP was working hard to remove the barriers to business growth – improving skills, speeding up connections to superfast broadband, opening up development land for investment and promoting growth in housing.
"We are delivering on our promise of growth and investment, deciding on what the priorities for funding are based on what you are telling us, and rolling out a schedule of work which in the coming years will see the creation of 70,000 homes and 40,000 jobs.
"Our businesses are being supported through The Marches Growth Hub, which offers a central point of help, advice and information. It also promotes European funded business support projects to our SMEs – with 11 programmes launched since last year and eight more due to go live in the next few months.
"Nearly £800,000 has been received by businesses in grant funding and hundreds more have received expert support to develop new products, access new supply chains and export overseas."
Businesswoman Deborah Mitchell took to the stage to explain how she has taken her £33m turnover business overseas with expanding markets in Japan, China and Dubai. The event also heard from social media expert and author Teresa Heath-Wareing and digital media entrepreneur Tim Luft.
LEP Director Gill Hamer said the event was also a chance for businesses to meet with specialist advisors to discuss support available, including new grant funding schemes.
"We were delighted to see so many businesses taking advantage not only of the chance to expand their network with the breakfast event, but also the numbers seeking advice from our business advisors in the Business Support Zone.
"Our speakers were great, and the panel session at the end really gave the audience an insight into the lessons learned when building a business and the fantastic opportunities offered by working with universities and colleges, trading overseas and by social media."
The Marches LEP Annual Report can be downloaded here