Rachel Laver (centre) of the Marches LEP launched a land use study with Ludlow MP Philip Dunne and Colin Preston, chair of the Marches Local Nature Partnership

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership today published its annual report – detailing the key successes the organisation has helped drive over the last 12 months.

The LEP – which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – says it has continued to deliver real results for the area despite the Government announcing it was withdrawing funding from all LEPs from April 2024.

The LEP is now working with the region’s three local authorities and partners to ensure a smooth transition of its responsibilities over the coming months.

Chief executive Rachel Laver said the annual report highlighted the huge impact the LEP had made, including:

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  • Supporting 8,555 businesses through the Marches Growth Hub
  • Creating or safeguarding 389 jobs
  • Generating £25.3million of match funding
  • Launching a £4million Marches Energy Fund in response to the energy crisis
  • Reaching more than 4,410 students and 113 teachers through the Marches Careers Hub’s innovative Start in the Marches local labour market platform

Rachel said: “As impressive as these figures are, they are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, our Key Account Management programme also saw a combined £13million invested by six separate foreign-owned companies during this year – creating 74 new jobs and safeguarding 150 others.

“At the same time it helped contribute to an overall total of 468 new jobs being created by 20 foreign-owned firms in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin last year.

“Some 30 companies have now benefitted from £339,000 of funding through our Marches Energy Grant – a £1.5million fund which helps them cut their energy bills and emissions and which has already led to projected carbon savings of more than 300 tonnes.

“And this year we brought together national, regional and local transport experts to help drive some of the infrastructure improvements needed to develop a prosperous and sustainable future.

“We’re working to develop alternative land uses across the region which respect the environment and bring new opportunities to the way we manage our land, and initiatives such as the new Low Carbon Technology Centre in Herefordshire are helping ensure that a new generation of workers have the skills they need to thrive in the emerging green technologies.

“All this – and much more detailed in the annual report – is clear evidence of the value the LEP has brought to the whole region over the last decade and the hugely positive results that our partnership working model has brought.”

Marches LEP chair Sonia Roberts MBE says in her introduction to the report that whilst the organisation strongly disagrees with the Government’s decision to transfer responsibilities away from LEPs, the partnership has a record of achievement over more than a decade which speaks for itself.

“In that time we have given the business community a clear voice in shaping the future of our region and developed first-class working partnerships between businesses, local authorities and education and skills providers.

“Our work has seen us invest more than £196million across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin since our creation, with more than 18,000 jobs created or in the pipeline as a result of our investment.

“Much of that success has been the result of the work and commitment of our board members and staff – all of whom have been badly affected by the uncertainty of the past two years. I’d like to pay a special tribute to all of them for their remarkable efforts over the last 12 months in what have been very difficult circumstances.”

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