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By Greater Lincolnshire LEP Chair

Pat Doody is the Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

As I head towards to the conclusion of my 8 and a half years with the LEP I reflect that the Greater Lincolnshire economy has both proven resilient, despite some very challenging headwinds, many of which remain gale force, and has enormous potential given the country’s need for much of what we do well.

Food is a very obvious starting point. We launched the Food Valley just a year ago and already it has gained both national and international recognition and investor interest. Our inward investment pipeline has never looked so strong. We regularly meet with potential partners and only recently hosted a joint event with the Icelandic food cluster to explore what mutual areas we can partner on. The links between our Agrifood heartland in South Lincolnshire and our Fish producers in the North are developing well and expect more announcements in the New Year.

Our Four ‘Game Changers’ have much to collaborate on and clearly the energy sector, recently called the ‘Energy Frontier’ in respect of what we have on the South Bank of the Humber by the CBI, has enormous relevance to the food sector as it to seeks to decarbonise its production, packaging, storage and distribution with expertise in our Region in Hydrogen, Carbon capture, Wind and synthetic fuels all in a near market state.

The Freeport too is very close to market and we would expect its formal launch in Qtr 1 2023. Already a major port complex, the largest in the UK by tonnage, the adoption of Freeport status will bring significant onshoring opportunities and the potential for many thousands of jobs especially in the Energy sector. As a result we are in dialogue with our educators in respect of the skills provision we will need and continued success of the Careers Enterprise network in Greater Lincolnshire is already manifesting itself into much improved Gatsby scores for local schools as they partner up with local employers – some 120 firms engaged and rising.

Defence and Security too, with Lincoln at its geographic heart, is growing rapidly at a time where innovation is at a peak and building on our heritage of RAF excellence we are at the forefront of new development. As a recently formed cluster we are seeing valuable partnerships developing and again National recognition of the work carried out in Greater Lincolnshire.

Other sectors too show great potential, innovation in Rural health has strong momentum with the university’s Medical School proving how much of a difference it is making to our health landscape. The visitor economy, with perhaps the most significant challenges to face, continues to innovate and we have great examples locally of award winning offerings such as the International Bomber Command Centre which, as well as providing a highly relevant and interactive visitor centre, is at the heart of National reflections on the impacts of conflict.

Finally the LEP has striven to drive, with partners, the local economy (our two most recent fundings have been for acceleration of solutions to the labour shortage and for projects that promote clean growth) both vital elements of a successful future. I would also add that our vital manufacturing sector can now look to expert support via a recent achievement of the ‘Made Smarter’ programme which supports digitalisation. Thanks to all who have played their part in supporting this year’s progress, despite it all, and thanks to those who will add to that in 2023.

Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership

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By Greater Lincolnshire LEP Chair

The UK is heading for the fastest growth of any of the G7 this year with an end-of-year figure just under 7%. That masks some very significant differentials in sectors, with online businesses beneficiaries of the pandemic but the High Street a victim.

Central forecasts are hovering around 5% for next year, but continuation of that growth depends very much on supply shortages in both labour and materials being resolved; Brexit negotiations still need to be resolved, and of course further COVID outbreaks may cause more disruption.

Business has remained largely resilient to a continually shifting landscape, with COVID accelerating some cyclical changes and working patterns shifting significantly. Our hospitality sector has of course had to cope with more than most, and many businesses are currently reporting a significant drop-off in trade following the reaction to the Omicron variant which has put a halt to their recovery.

The medium term offers great hope to the Greater Lincolnshire area. The most transparent measure of that is the much heightened level of inward investment enquiries our teams are fielding across our four ‘game changers’. That is the name we have given to our most dynamic sectors – those that have the potential to deliver real, sustained economic growth with higher level skilled jobs. Thus we have recognised, and developed growth plans for, our food, freeport, defence and energy clusters.

We recently hosted our annual LEP conference where it was great to return to face to face contact. A major element was the launch of our UK Food Valley, and national names voiced the benefits our existing food companies are adding to the local economy and the massive potential they offer via innovation and decarbonising their processes.

The University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing at Holbeach truly leads the world in the work it is doing, and the investor interest in the sector shows that the confidence we have is shared by overseas companies that want to be part of a cluster which extends to our important seafood businesses on the south bank of the Humber.

Another game changer is the Humber Freeport which, having gained Government backing after a competitive bidding process, is now a reality and will go live in Q1 of 2022. The Humber ports complex accounts for 23% of UK trade shipped and the potential is already being seen: recent announcements include SEah Wind, the South Korean wind turbine firm, announcing plans for a £260m investment and the creation of 750 jobs. The scale of ambition for the freeport is massive for the whole area, and the jobs and supply chain opportunities are far reaching. We must also not lose sight of the fact that we lie, uniquely, between two freeports as the East Midlands freeport is also scheduled for commencement next year.

Energy lies at the heart of much of how we as individuals and our businesses function, and we have reached a point where how and what we use needs to change. We are fortunate to be at the heart of that change, as Grimsby is already the world’s leading offshore maintenance centre and home to companies such as Ørsted which are leading wind energy growth. Additionally, we have leading innovators in hydrogen and low-carbon fuel (Phillips 66 for example just announced the UK’s first sustainable aviation fuel deal which will power some of the British Airways fleet as early as next year), and we have great collaboration with our colleagues on the north bank of the Humber to ensure this area achieves its full potential.

Defence too continues to grow in Greater Lincolnshire, not just in our strong and expanding air bases in Waddington, Cranwell and Coningsby but also in the emerging cyber defence sector evident at the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park. The park is now developing its second phase which coincides with the formation of the LEP’s Defence Board, made up of experts from international as well as local defence companies. As with the other sectors, the new jobs being created here are high value and offer the wider economy the benefits of those employees being based locally.

These developments explain why we are so confident about the future. Many areas would be delighted with one of these game-changing sectors, and we’re fortunate enough to have four. We are also optimistic that our health sector can continue to prosper, and again innovation is a key theme; the recent opening of the Lincoln Medical School is an important addition to the health landscape.

The summer also showed us just what the visitor economy offering can deliver, taking advantage of staycations while the pandemic continues. Our coast, heritage and tourism offer is varied, stimulating and resilient, and hopefully more of us are realising just what’s on our doorstep.

I leave you with good wishes and high hopes for 2022 and thanks to all our businesses who together have shown mutual support and encouragement in very tough circumstances. I trust that next year brings its rewards.

Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership

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