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Cumbria LEP's AGM outlines how its programmes supported business growth

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s (CLEP’s) Annual General Meeting heard how over £70 million has been channelled into capital projects that will benefit the local economy and businesses.

Attendees heard how CLEP had successfully delivered its £60.32 million Local Growth Fund (Growth Deal) programme, which included the Growing Our Potential (GOP) scheme that delivered 19 grants of up to £250,000 to Cumbrian businesses.

Businesses that had benefitted from the funding were on hand to outline how the financial support had helped them to deliver their growth plans. Attendees heard from:

    • Mark Brook, Manufacturing Director at James Walker & Co – who explained how a £2.6 million Growth Deal funding package had helped deliver major flood protection work at its Cockermouth factory, helping secure 406 skilled jobs and looking to create a further 30 jobs by 2023;
    • Donovan Du Plessis, Director at Firehouse – who explained how £57k of Growing Our Potential funding had helped to fund the development of a new showroom in Kendal, which meant it is better able to display and expand its cedarwood hot tubs, Jacuzzi’s and heating products. The project has created 7 new jobs to date;
    • Stephen Revell, Director at Mitchell’s Auction Company – which was awarded a Growing Our Potential grant of £139,000 towards a project to provide 12 additional small workshop spaces at its Lakeland Agricultural Centre, Cockermouth, which have all been let to local businesses;
    • Sarah Swindley, CLEP Board Member on behalf Brewery Arts Centre – whose £100,000 Growing Our Potential allocation had helped fund a new digital media hub, part of a wider capital project to refurbish the Kendal facility and make it even more attractive to local people, visitors and artists alike.

CLEP advised attendees that it had allocated Cumbria’s £10.5 million contribution from the Getting Building Fund (GBF) to two major projects – the A595 Bothel Road Improvement Scheme and The Marina Village project in Barrow.

For the second year running, the meeting was held via videoconference as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and to make it easier for as many people as possible to attend.

CLEP Chair Lord Inglewood and Board members Steve Cole, Sarah Swindley, Nigel Wilkinson, Andrew Wren, together with Chief Executive Jo Lappin, outlined the key activities delivered over the past 12 months and the priorities for the remainder of the financial year.

CLEP Deputy Chair Steve Cole, Chief Infrastructure Officer at BAE Systems Marine Ltd, updated attendees on CLEP’s investments while Professor Andrew Wren, Principal and Chief Executive of Furness College and CLEP’s Diversity Champion, explained that the organisation remained committed to:

        • Gender equality on its board by 2023;
        • Increased Protected Characteristics representation and;
        • Enhanced age, geographic and sectorally balanced representation.

The meeting also heard from Morgan Kasiera, of the Futures Forum, about how the Forum was ensuring that the views of young people aged between 18 and 35 were informing CLEP’s strategic thinking on the economy and Cumbria’s opportunities and challenges. The Forum has produced its Futures Framework to outline how it plans to make a difference.

Nigel Wilkinson, Chair of CLEP’s Finance, Audit and Resources Committee, confirmed that the organisation’s finances were healthy and that the auditor had given a clean bill of health. Councillor Bill Wearing, Chair of the independent LEP Scrutiny Board, also positively endorsed the work of the LEP and the way that this was conducted in an open and transparent manner and in compliance with the expectations of a publicly funded organisation.

CLEP Chair Lord Inglewood said: “The Annual General Meeting is an important visible demonstration of our commitment to operate in a very open and transparent manner, which allows all of our partners to hear about what we have been doing and ask us any questions that they might have. I am really encouraged that so many of our partners take the opportunity to join us.

“This year we had some excellent case studies from businesses that CLEP had funded to help deliver their growth plans, which is really what we are all about - supporting our businesses to deliver their ambitions.”

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