What is the economic signature of the Midlands? What makes it distinctive? Are we in danger of simply being the space between London and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’?
I have advocated before that the East Midlands needs to be ‘The UK’s Smart Region’, but to do so, it will needs to take greater responsibility to deliver its own destiny. It will need to establish a clear and compelling vision for growth and rationale for investment – i.e. why should Government invest time, funding and infrastructure in this area.
In recent weeks Economist Jim O’Neil has constantly been in the news. Whether it is his report as Chair of the City Growth Commission on ‘Metro Growth – The UK’s Economic Opportunity’ ; the Devolution Deal in Manchester or most recently the review by the Commission on Antibiotic Resistance.
Can I suggest that the East Midlands and probably the wider Midlands needs its own Jim O’Neil or our own growth commission to lift our ambition to a completely different level, rather than simply deliver the incremental creep administered through largely transactional processes.
In 2015, LEPs will need to be very focused on delivery – in our case the D2N2 Growth Deal, our ESIF programme and important products such as the D2N2 Growth Hub and recently expanded Enterprise Zone. However, we should also be sure that we are achieving our ambition to be one of the most respected LEPs, known for our professionalism and effectiveness.
Vision and ambition are important – not least to unite partners in a common purpose about the economy of the future, but also because future governments will only commit powers – and resources – to places that have a compelling vision for growth.
I have no doubt that in the East Midlands we have the most fantastic foundations but we need to demonstrate a passion and commitment to our future and show leadership in securing our future.
David RalphChief ExecutiveD2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership