HGB and COVID-19 economic recovery planning – the wider growth strategy for Hertfordshire
How Hertfordshire can help fast-track a scaled rebound from the impacts of COVID-19 was the subject of Hertfordshire Growth Board’s second webinar held earlier today (Thursday 13 August, 1100).
Over 140 people from across local and central government and business registered for this special hour-long event hosted by The Voice of Authority (TVoA) and sponsored by leading UK construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall, based in Welwyn Garden City.
Speakers included Neil Hayes, CEO, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership; Julie Newlan MBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor at University of Hertfordshire; Cllr Morris Bright MBE, Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, and Patsy Dell, Director, Hertfordshire Growth, Hertfordshire Growth Board, with Sean Bradley, Managing Director (London and Home Counties) at Morgan Sindall.
Hertfordshire Growth Board comprises Hertfordshire County Council, the county’s 10 district and borough councils and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Its 12 members have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signalling Hertfordshire’s commitment to collaborative working and getting things done.
Patsy Dell set the scene, explaining why ‘good growth curation’ at a local level was so important for ‘ground up’ economic recovery and placed this within a longer-term place perspective for the county.
Patsy said: “We want our residents, business and key institutions to know that we are working together to ensure that place-based measures that support economic recovery and future economic performance are being aligned and are in the forefront of our thinking and planning.
“The Hertfordshire Growth Board came together to support good growth now, and in the future, providing strong governance and alignment of business, political and civic leadership for this area.”
Asked how Hertfordshire LEP was working with the Growth Board to help reignite the local economy, Neil Hayes said: “Future growth and recovery are inextricably linked with the Growth Board and the LEP working hand-in-hand to ensure that our people, places and businesses are equipped for future ways of living and working. One of the ways this is being taken forward with our Growth Board partners is ensuring that we have the digital technologies, skills and infrastructure in place.”
An example of a recent LEP investment in cross-cutting innovation was, Neil said, the new Cell and Gene Integration Lab in Stevenage via the Government’s Getting Building Fund. This would deliver the UK’s first digital training centre equipped for advanced therapy manufacturing and create jobs, attract future inward investment and further cement Stevenage’s global position within this sector.
The need to accelerate digital solutions in response to COVID-19 was reinforced by Julie Newlan, MBE, who said: “As we continue to develop innovative training and delivery solutions, we aim to power opportunities through new systems and digital solutions which will allow us to remain connected, whether face-to-face or virtually, with our community and still managing to address in real-time their development needs.”
Hertsmere is home to Elstree Studios, which is to undergo further expansion, and Sky Studios Elstree which is expected to open in 2022. Asked how the local economy could directly benefit, Cllr Morris Bright MBE said: “Elstree has long been, and continues to be, a world-renowned name in film and television, so this was fantastic news for local people and local jobs. It confirmed our continued attractiveness and status as home to the UK’s world-class creative media industry.
“This also reflects our growth ambitions in Hertfordshire where we are committed to delivering 100,000 jobs by 2031, including high quality local jobs that are crucial to achieving sustainable growth.
“In our county, we have some important national leading businesses which help contribute £37.5billion a year to the UK economy, and we are working hard to make sure Hertfordshire becomes even more attractive for business.”
Hertfordshire Growth Board’s first webinar was held on Thursday 16 July. Collaborating for growth – Hertfordshire doing things differently provided an introduction to HGB including how and why it was formed, its membership and priorities for the future. The summary report with live polling results will be posted here; view the webinar recording. The third and final webinar in this series will be held on Thursday 10 September, and will focus on how HGB can support development and delivery during Hertfordshire’s long-term recovery.