Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is seeking input from businesses, communities, public and not for profit organisations from across the region on how to drive up productivity and ensure that future growth is inclusive.

The LEP has published its draft Local Industrial Strategy for public consultation following months of evidence gathering, public briefings and detailed discussions with partners across the county and the wider South East region.

The draft sets out a suggested ‘economic roadmap’ for Hertfordshire that plays to its key sector strengths and addresses some of its challenges, be it the growth of London and pressures for accelerated housing delivery; skills gaps or varying levels of equality to significantly improve the quality of life and prospects for the most disadvantaged groups in our society.

Mark Bretton, Chair, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “We are seeking your views on Hertfordshire’s long-term future and the new horizons and possibilities ahead of us. This draft sets out future scenarios based on extensive analysis and engagement carried out by the LEP over nearly two years and represents one of the biggest opportunities yet to alter the county’s future economic path.

“Your views are vital to ensure that collectively we secure the best deal for the county and make the economy as resilient as possible.”

Work has been underway to develop Hertfordshire’s Local Industrial Strategy since the Government published its Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017. Significant progress has been made over 2018/19 in refining the evidence base developed from Hertfordshire LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, and identifying areas for further investigation.

This has included a series of wide-ranging discussions and debates about the nature of Hertfordshire’s economy; place-based deep dives; working meetings with key partners and a survey of around 450 businesses conducted by the University of Hertfordshire’s Business School, focusing on issues relating to productivity in Hertfordshire.

As part of the evidence-gathering on the local economy, Hertfordshire LEP also commissioned research, including major enquiries into the loss of employment space across Hertfordshire and the nature of the productivity challenge. Further sub-strategies include digital infrastructure, inward investment, innovation and social enterprise will feed into the emerging LIS and support ongoing LEP priorities and programmes. Dialogue and detailed discussions on Hertfordshire’s future will continue, with roundtables in St Albans and another focusing on creative industries planned. The Local Industrial Strategy will be an integral part of the wider Hertfordshire growth plan and positions the LEP as key drivers of it. 

This evidence base is available to view on Hertfordshire LEP’s website with the priorities shared with a wide range of stakeholders during November 2018 to March 2019. The draft Local Industrial Strategy will be available for consultation prior to Hertfordshire LEP’s Annual Conference at GSK on 7th October.

Up to 200 people are expected to attend with representatives from a wide range of major corporates headquartered in the county, as well as central and local government leaders including Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, and Oliver Heald, MP for North Hertfordshire.

This conference will formally mark the start of the ‘co-design’ process with Government before being finalised in early 2020. Throughout the process, Hertfordshire LEP has engaged extensively with businesses, local and central government and other organisations to roadtest its emerging strategy and ideas, resulting in widespread endorsement of its collaborative approach.

Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer, Ocado, speaking at Hertfordshire’s State of the Economy conference in October 2018, said: “We need a grand vision for what a smart UK might look like and the infrastructure to support it. The same goes, albeit at a smaller scale, for the future of a smart and prosperous Hertfordshire. We need a vision for what that might look like, and how we might be a demonstrator and incubator for elements of the bigger UK wide vision.”

Former Business & Industry Minister Richard Harrington MP said: “Through the development of a Local Industrial Strategy, Hertfordshire is building on its strong history of innovation to unlock the region’s full potential to create new jobs and opportunities. Spearheaded by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, businesses, academia, and public sector partners across the county will be able to share their expertise to boost productivity and the local economy.”

Read Hertfordshire LEP’s draft Local Industrial Strategy and take part in the consultation.