Summit hears about economic plans for area

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A PROJECT worth billions of pounds was outlined at a business summit for the Solent.

Last week, the first-ever Solent Business Growth Summit was held for business in and around Portsmouth and talks were given by Fran Millar, from the Team Sky cycling group, as well as Santander’s chief economist Barry Naisbitt and Geraldine Buckland, head of people management at Smith & Williamson.

Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and managing director at commercial property consultancy Hughes Ellard, also detailed the £2.4bn strategic economic plan for the Solent.

The proposals to 2020 will enable flagships for housing and employment, enhance transport connectivity, grow the region’s skills base and support business growth.

Mr Jeffries said: ‘This is about investing in skills to establish a sustainable pattern of growth, establishing a single inward investment model and enabling infrastructure priorities and connectivity.

‘One of the focuses will be on developing strategic sectors and clusters of marine, aerospace and defence, advanced manufacturing, engineering, transport, logistics, low carbon and the visitor economy.’

Objectives include creating an extra 15,500 jobs, unlocking 500,000 square metre of new employment floor space, delivering an additional 24,000 new homes and supporting the creation of 1,000 small and medium enterprises.

More than 50 business leaders from around the Solent region met at St Mary’s Stadium, in Southampton for the summit.