BUSINESSES in the county are set to get a helping hand from both Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.
David Frost CBE, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, has been appointed by the government to chair a national network of LEPs, which involve businesses and local authorities working together to decide economic priorities and lead the recovery.
He told business leaders during a breakfast meeting at the Solent Hotel in Whiteley that the county-wide chamber of commerce is well placed to support the LEPs.
His message comes ahead of the official launch of the Solent LEP, which takes place next Tuesday at Southampton Port.
But Mr Frost also said the government had to match that enthusiasm by continuing to invest in regional business support.
He said: ‘Hampshire is a premier league county in terms of GDP and it has long cried out for a single chamber of commerce to represent its businesses.
‘I am very impressed with the business community’s commitment to LEPs and there is undoubtedly excitement and a real buzz about them.
‘But if the government wants to get results it has to invest in successful areas such as Hampshire and not just areas of deprivation.’
Hampshire is developing two LEPs – Enterprise M3 in the north and Solent in the south.
Mr Frost highlighted the strength of Hampshire’s new county-wide chamber, formed last year after the county’s regional chambers amalgamated, as a major driving force for the LEPs.
Captain Jimmy Chestnutt, chief executive of Hampshire chamber, said: ‘We are uniquely positioned to help both the LEPs work for the benefit of businesses throughout the county.
‘The British Chambers of Commerce have a similar sort of role but at a national level.
‘As a result, the chamber network is at the heart of the LEP process nationally and locally.’
Mr Frost said the chamber movement was focusing on ways to ensure 2011 was a year of growth.
These included cutting red tape on employment and planning issues, increasing access to finance and re-balancing the economy in favour of export-led growth.
After the breakfast Mr Frost visited TUV SUD Product Services, a technical testing and certification firm, and Saab Seaeye, which manufactures remotely operated underwater vehicles.