Fostering a net zero economy was among the key highlights of EM3 and its Growth Hub’s collaborative work during the pandemic, as well as a focus of its future ambitions, delegates heard at the LEP’s AGM.
Chief executive Kathy Slack said in 2020/21, EM3 had invested almost £50 million to support businesses seize the opportunities presented by a digital and net zero future as the economy emerges from the challenges of COVID-19.
Kathy said: “We’re developing a strong economic recovery, not only in towns but in rural areas, moving the region and its communities to net zero by supporting businesses. We are unashamedly putting in a look at net zero in everything we do, so it is integrated with all that we're doing.”
She told delegates that the LEP and the EM3 Growth Hub had spent the year focusing on the twin aims of supporting businesses through COVID-19 while simultaneously investing for future success. Highlights of the year had included £13.3 million investment from the government’s Getting Building Fund; the kickstart of EM3’s plan to create a gigabit “fibre spine” initially between Guildford and Basingstoke, and the LEP’s support for the Guildford Games Festival which helped create an additional £2.8 million additional games income for companies involved.
And there was further success with the securing of a £70,000 grant from Government to support the space sector. Kathy said: “We’re looking across sectors and how we work in a different way to bring those sectors together to seize opportunities.
“This investment in sectors is paying huge dividends by bringing in foreign direct investors who are interested in what's going on here, but we're not doing it just on our own,” she added.
“The real core of Enterprise M3 and our Growth Hub is always about collaboration and working in partnership, we want to continue doing that and spark that creativity of diversity, and we want to continue to maintain a reputation of being the strong strategic leadership backed up by economic and business intelligence. Together, this will take us forward in the future.”
Kathy praised the LEPs many partners from across the public, private and education sectors and highlighted its work across boundaries working with other LEPs and Growth Hubs including Catalyst South, the Greater South East Energy Hub and the South Central Growth Hub which supported thousands of businesses through Brexit
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