Our voice of business this month is:

Richard Harrington, Chief Executive Officer at Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership

This is the last blog of the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership following the decision to transfer functions and assets to Buckinghamshire Council, on 29th February 2024, to support local leadership, drive efficiency in the delivery of economic development and to provide further clarity to the business community in matters of economic strategy, support and growth.

I am incredibly proud of the ambitious strategies, collaborations and initiatives that the LEP has delivered over the past decade to support the growth of Buckinghamshire’s economy and improve the quality of life for its residents. The local economy grew from £13bn to £18bn over that extremely challenging period and now has a stronger connection with its growth sectors and the skills pipeline that will support future economic growth and livelihoods.

Over this period, we have built strong foundations upon which our economy has thrived and worked proactively with stakeholders, including political, educational, business and community leaders, to ensure that Buckinghamshire remains a highly attractive place for business, which is why we are one of the top performing areas in the country.

From the relatively constrained ‘Single Pot’ start comprising Transport and Higher Education capital funding, we have diversified and delivered an impressive portfolio of projects and activities that have positively changed our region. Highlights include the establishment of Enterprise Zones at Silverstone, Westcott and Aylesbury Woodlands where business rate reinvestment by the LEP has provided a platform for R&D and innovation businesses to thrive, the development of our Buckinghamshire Business First Growth Hub, establishment of the Bucks Skills Hub and Skills Show, along with securing over £100m worth of direct investment into Buckinghamshire unlocking investment of over £300m.

None of this would have been possible without the outstanding performance of a dedicated team and Board who have steered a course over the past decade to enhance the county’s world leading assets and sectoral strengths.

The LEP has always taken a collaborative and partnership approach. This includes bringing together the private and public sectors, large employers and SMEs, universities and industry, skills providers and businesses, investors and policymakers – and many others – for the benefit of Buckinghamshire.

Looking forward, strong constructive relationships with partners remains fundamental to delivering an innovative, sustainable, productive and inclusive future. The ability to evolve, adapting to the changing requirements of the economy and government will also be vital as LEP functions and assets transfer to Buckinghamshire Council as part of a Place Based Growth Board programme.

As we evolve to develop a more integrated programme of economic development in Buckinghamshire, we will be establishing a new pooled economic investment fund to drive investment, empowering local leadership to achieve economic growth in what in the short term is likely to remain a challenging growth period.

Thank you to all those that have been part of the journey so far and to the growing business base of Buckinghamshire. There remains an incredible amount to do to ensure that local talent whether at the individual, small business or large corporation level has a pathway to success. Building on the legacy of LEP achievement, we will continue to focus on helping innovative companies to thrive and create jobs for local people enhancing our position as the Entrepreneurial Heart of Britain.