Friday, 1 April 2011

New Enterprise Zone discussed at LEP board meeting

The first steps were taken this week towards choosing a location for the new Enterprise Zone for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

At a meeting of the LEP Board held on Monday and hosted by Birmingham Airport, members agreed that they needed to invest more time in choosing the location which will achieve the best possible outcome for the whole area in terms of job creation and economic growth.

Chair of the LEP, Bridget Blow, said; “We are all extremely pleased at the prospect of having an Enterprise Zone in our LEP area. This is something that will benefit everyone, as it allows us to retain business rates for the Zone for up to 25 years, pool the finance and distribute it amongst all members. It is a win-win for every LEP member. We are regionally very strong and economically viable, and all members are going to work closely together to ensure the decision made is the right one for the whole LEP area.”

The area chosen will need to be based in an area which has high potential for growth, and represents major opportunities for significant investment, including from overseas.

As well as the benefits of retaining business rates, Enterprise Zones will also be encouraged to develop Tax Increment Financing Schemes, which allow councils to borrow against future business rates revenues. These will be implemented from 2013.

The LEP will have a key role in planning, and will be expected to use existing local development orders to simplify planning rules within the zone, and fast-track forms of permitted development.

At Monday’s meeting, members also discussed the areas of employment and skills, agreeing to set the strategic agenda for skills, ensuring they are business led; bring in the sector of Further Education and schools; and supports people to become ‘ready for work’ and increases flexibility from training providers, focussing on higher level skills.

The next meeting of the LEP Board will take place on 18 April.

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