Last Friday, I met Doug Morrison, the chairman of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, and Anne-Marie Mountifield, its chief executive, to talk about their plans to ensure our area can compete in the global race.
Local Enterprise Partnerships were set up by the government to put business in charge of local economic growth, working with local councils and universities.
The Solent LEP has been very successful in bidding for money to promote local growth initiatives such as the Enterprise Zone at Daedalus, with its focus on aviation and advanced manufacturing, and Bridging the Gap, which is set to create more than 200 new jobs locally.
Initiatives like this help our businesses compete at home and abroad. Strong economic growth in South America and the Far East presents both an opportunity and a threat to our prosperity.
We must reform our economy – by building up our manufacturing and exporting to Europe. If we do this, then not only can we compete with these emerging economies but we can also export our goods and services to them.
I believe that we can do this and not only compete in the global race but also meet the nation’s aspirations.
As we heal our economy, we know that families are hard-pressed. Whilst the numbers in work have increased by more than 130,000 over the past quarter, incomes are being squeezed. That’s why I’m pleased that so many local councils have taken advantage of the money government has offered them to freeze their council tax this year.