As a Combined Authority one of our key priorities is to create the conditions to enable businesses to thrive and deliver inclusive growth that benefits everyone across the city region, writes Joanne Leek, investment analyst, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
At the risk of understatement, these are uncertain times, and we know that while Brexit may deliver opportunities, it also presents significant challenges. As a team, we are constantly talking to businesses and other institutions to understand their needs. We have received the very clear message that collectively we need to drive an agenda to support and deliver transformational and impactful investment.
The Combined Authority has a key role to play through both its policy function and strategic investments. Our approach responds to new funding prerogatives and market conditions as the economic landscape of the City Region shifts from regeneration towards growth. New devolved powers and funding led to the relaunch of the Strategic Investment Fund in November, which will act as a catalyst for delivering an ambitious agenda of growth and inclusivity.
At the SIF launch, Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor, highlighted this key opportunity: “Devolution gives us the opportunity to do things differently, and one of the ways we will do that is by making it clear to applicants that they will have a better chance of success if their bids demonstrate positive social impact.”
The Combined Authority has ambitious plans to make sure that inclusivity is at the heart of that growth and great projects are delivered in every borough. The investment team have a role to play in delivering these plans. We need to look at how projects can help to accelerate inclusive growth, create more innovative delivery models and deliver impact across the region. Simply investing is great projects is not enough; we must deliver as a region, public body and as individuals.
The relaunch of the SIF has created an opportunity to do things differently whilst building on the successes of previous funding initiatives. As we look at potential projects, our guiding rule is that investment should deliver impact first and return second. Both are crucial elements to developing a portfolio of projects that help us, as the Combined Authority, to deliver on our strategic objectives. There are two ways to improve a project’s value for money: improve its economic, environmental and social performance or improve its financial performance. We will seek to do both to every project.