Chairman Graham Wynn looks at what it means and how it will benefit the Midlands as a whole.
Our new Strategic Economic Plan sets some ambitious targets.
We think we can grow the economy of the Marches to £23.8 billion by 2038, creating 58,700 new jobs, building 54,400 new homes and increasing GVA per head to £29,425.
At the same time we expect to see the population of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin grow to 807,500, to increase skill levels so that 60 per cent of our residents have level 3+ qualifications and to establish the region firmly among the best places to live and work in the country.
These targets are not, of course, just plucked out of thin air. We have talked to hundreds of businesses as well as local authorities, educational and development partners and regional and national strategic stakeholders to build up the evidence base which supports our plans.
We do not underestimate the challenge and complexity of achieving our goals, but the prize is significant and will benefit not just the Marches, but the Midlands as a whole.
Our plan is, as you would expect, very much aligned with the vision for growth set out by the Midlands Engine – and the Engine’s five strategic priorities are intrinsically woven into our thinking.
We’ll help connect the Midlands through investment in priority schemes, working alongside partners including Highways England, National Rail and local authorities to ensure these plans feed into the bigger picture of improved Midlands connectivity.
We’ll support capacity and speed improvements on major rail lines, such as those linking Shrewsbury and Hereford to Birmingham and Shrewsbury to Crewe – all future HS2 links.
Our infrastructure will be constantly improved to further our ambitions and help the region as a whole to prosper. We’ll provide high-quality employment sites that are accessible, close to housing for staff and have the best possible broadband and utilities.
We will continue to look beyond our borders to encourage our businesses to trade on the global stage and have identified a series of emerging sectors – such as cyber security, agri-tech, social care and environmental technology – in which the Marches can help the Midlands lead the world in the innovative use of technology to transform lives and business.
And we will continue to champion the Midlands as a whole, and the Marches in particular, as a great place to live, work, do business and grow.
By working together – with neighbouring LEPs and partners such as the Midlands Engine, Midlands Connect, the Cyber Resilience Alliance and the Agri-Tech West Alliance – we can work more efficiently and effectively. We can achieve even better results and bring even greater wealth and prosperity to this great region.
Our Strategic Economic Plan sets out to do just that.
You can read the new SEP here.