Mandy Thorn MBE – Chair, Marches Local Enterprise Partnership
Welcome to the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership’s annual report for 2021.
And what a year it has been.
Two years ago, none of us could have imagined what was lying in wait for us.
The Covid pandemic has quite literally changed the way all of us do business, and changed all of our lives forever.
So I want to start this year’s report by paying a huge tribute to each and every one of the tens of thousands of businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin who have worked so hard to come through the last 18 months.
For some that has meant months without any income at all, with staff on furlough and workplaces mothballed.
For others it has meant rising to the challenge of continuing to work despite the lockdown, adopting new working practices, shift patterns and health and safety measures.
For all of you, it has meant a journey into the unknown; sleepless nights worrying about the future and a fierce determination to survive and come back stronger.
It is that spirit which makes this region such an outstanding place to do business.
The last 12 months has seen the Marches LEP at the forefront of action to safeguard our economy.
Since our hugely-successful Business Recovery Summit last October we have been in continual dialogue with our business community and our local authority and academic partners to ensure that this region gets all the support and help it needs from Government.
Because of the way we are set up – to work with partners across both the public and private sector – we are uniquely placed to be able to shape the recovery, and are working to do just that.
This year has also marked ten years since the LEP was formed and we have been proud to reflect on our achievements in driving economic growth across the area during this decade of delivery.
You will see the key statistics elsewhere in this report. They are testament to the fact that there is no corner of our wonderful region which has not benefitted in some way from the work of the LEP in the last 10 years.
That work in building the infrastructure, skills, innovation and sustainability which will drive us forward from this pandemic is needed now more than ever.
We look forward to playing our part to the full in building the better future which lies before us.
Finally, I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank every member of the LEP board and all its staff for their professionalism, commitment and dedication throughout the last 12 months, during which a Government review into the future role of the LEP has been under way.
Despite uncertainty over the future and the most challenging of circumstances, each and every one of the LEP team has continued to serve this region brilliantly. I am immensely grateful to them all.