The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is seeking input from businesses, communities, and other organisations from across the region on plans to set the Solent on a pathway to a more prosperous future.
A new Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) will set out a vision for the Solent in 2050 and form the blueprint for future investment from Government to help unlock the area’s growth ambitions.
Around 300 business and civic leaders attended the LEP’s annual conference at Hilton at the Ageas Bowl to hear the announcement from LEP chairman Gary Jeffries: “Today’s conference has given us an opportunity to look at the near term horizon of Brexit and the challenges and opportunities that our businesses are preparing to meet.
“However, we also have an opportunity to look at how we want our long-term future to be and the new horizons and possibilities ahead of us. I am delighted to be able to launch our consultation on a new Local Industrial Strategy for the Solent. This represents an opportunity for us to set the area on a pathway to a more prosperous future for all.
“The Solent has exceptional assets, a pioneering spirit and long history of innovation and enterprise which will serve us well going forward. Our incredible coastline is full of fantastic natural assets, including areas like the New Forest National Park, and key international gateways at the Port of Southampton, Southampton Airport and Portsmouth International Port and Naval Base that present an opportunity for the area to become the UK’s premier trading gateway, extending our reach far beyond our own local economic growth potential.”
The LEP is now seeking views from the area to help shape a vision for the Solent economy that will set out how this prosperity can be achieved.
Neil Garwood, managing director at Southampton Airport and keynote speaker at the event, said: “The future is bright for Southampton Airport and we are delighted to be able to help the Solent’s economic growth potential take-off. Flying continues unaffected whatever the Brexit outcome, which is a great boost for business and leisure passengers alike, and our ambitious expansion plans, backed by the local community last year, are forecast to more than double passenger numbers from two million to five million a year by 2037. This will further anchor the Solent’s role as a key global gateway and help to catalyse the areas world class coastal and visitor economy in the years ahead.”
Karen Lucas, managing director of Vikoma, an industry leader in design and manufacture of high quality oil spill and recovery technology based on the Isle of Wight, said: “There are both challenges and opportunities ahead and Vikoma are rising to meet these head on. Whilst there remains uncertainty, preparing for Brexit is all about building business resilience and this has been driving our success for more than 50 years. Changes in the market and also technology provide business with an opportunity to invest in research and development, apply technologies to new markets and continue to lead the way in areas where the Isle of Wight and wider Solent area have an established global reputation for excellence.”
The Solent LEP annual conference, sponsored by Barratt Homes, Beyond Encryption, Irwin Mitchell and Lee Peck Media, saw the start of the LEP’s engagement to shape the LIS, with roundtable seminars taking place to cover areas such as; Innovation, Big Data and AI; Skills; Coastal Renaissance; and Supporting the Region’s Businesses Beyond Brexit.
The LEP is now seeking views, ideas and evidence from the area, with a view to submitting the LIS to Government during autumn 2019.
To submit your thoughts and suggestions, or to register to receive future updates on how to join the conversation on developing a local industrial strategy for the Solent, please email LIS@solentlep.org.uk