Lancashire LEP is the first Local Enterprise Partnership to become an official partner of the Northern Powerhouse.
Andrew Percy, minister for the Northern Powerhouse, made the announcement today at Burnley FC’s Turf Moor as he embarked on a charm offensive of the county’s key projects.
Confusingly for those seeking clarity on what the Northern Powerhouse means and who it involves, today’s agreement refers to the group of organisations revealed on 31 October as Northern Powerhouse partners, rather than the smaller Northern Powerhouse Partnership business-led thinktank chaired by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
More than 30 organisations, including Manchester Airports Group, Peel, Siemens, Marketing Lancashire, the University of Central Lancashire and Carlisle Lake District Airport have been named as members of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse group.
Percy pointed to the North’s enterprise zones as proof that government policy is supporting growth in the North. New figures released on the progress of these zones say that over the past four years, the first wave of nine zones have attracted £1.3bn private sector investment and 9,000 jobs. No zone-by-zone breakdown of where investment and job creation has occurred is available due to being “commercially sensitive”.
Five further northern zones have since been announced, with three more to follow by April 2017. Two of this year’s new zones are at Blackpool Airport and Hillhouse International, and Percy will attend a ceremony at the airport to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with local partners.
The LEP is seizing the opportunity to highlight its importance to the northern economy by keeping the minister on his feet; other engagements undertaken by Percy today will include the opening of Burnley’s Innovation Drive, a visit to the University of Central Lancashire and a conference of the northern LEPs at Preston County Hall.
Percy said: “Building the Northern Powerhouse is central to our plans to create an economy that works for everyone. We’re backing the North with the investment and powers it needs to fulfil its huge untapped potential and I’m pleased to see businesses here, working alongside the Lancashire LEP, are pledging their support.
“Today’s figures show that Northern Powerhouse enterprise zones are attracting the skilled workers businesses need to help them take on the world with an extra 800 jobs in just three months – and with eight more zones due to open for business by 2017, long may that continue.”
The Turf Moor conference heard an update on the proposed combined authority for Lancashire.