Blogs - 05 March 2014

Blog: David Ralph – The Challenge of Business Engagement

The D2N2 LEP is proud to be a business-led partnership. 

We believe that a locally-led solution through a business-led approach working in partnership with our 19 local authorities, 3 universities and 11 further education institutions and the extremely diverse CVS has a real opportunity to deliver local and better solutions to accelerate economic growth and share that growth across our many and varied communities. 

But the business community is not homogenous and as we and I’m sure many LEPs do find, broad business engagement extremely challenging. We are helped by a special relationship with our Chamber of Commerce which covers Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and at the outset strongly advocated for a D2N2-wide LEP. Size and scale is important and D2N2 is the 5th largest LEP with some 2.1m residents. 

A key benefit of working closely with the Chamber is that their offices provide a base or rather bases for the LEP throughout the area but also a direct interface and real time economic intelligence directly from business. However, we also work closely with the FSB, IoD and CBI – indeed recently I discussed the key principles of our strategic economic plan with the CBI Regional Committee. 

We are also hosting a series of business breakfasts but recognise very much the challenge raised in them – As a SME, what’s in this for me? As a consequence, we have now issued a frequently asked questions response setting out improved business support products in partnership with MAS, Growth Accelerator and potentially UKTI; access to finance providing alternative forms of finance to help business grow; increased business coaching and mentoring; increased networking opportunities; specific sector development plans; more work-ready school leavers; increased local procurement –  as well as improving key local infrastructure – road, rail, power and broadband. 

For LEPs, the real challenge is bringing to life documents such as the Strategic Economic Plan and demonstrate to business that it can really make a difference.

David Ralph

Chief Executive


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