The six local authorities of the Liverpool city region have more than doubled their commitment to inward investment agency The Mersey Partnership, with a new £1.8m, three-year package.
Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral currently have a 12-month commitment to contribute a total of £300,000. This ended in March 2008. Under the terms of the new agreement, this total sum will rise to £575,000 in year one and £655,000 in each of years two and three.
TMP is responsible for inward investment, economic development and tourism. Under new chief executive Lorraine Rogers, TMP has embarked on a stronger inward investment programme nationally and internationally, and is also now the sub-regional delivery partner of the North West Development Agency and the local authorities.
The organisation has in the past often been criticised for lacking purpose and direction compared to the more aggressive and arguably more fruitful Midas and Marketing Manchester bodies.
Last autumn, funding difficulties led the NWDA to offer a six-figure credit line to help TMP during a backlog in processing European grants from the Objective One programme from which it benefits.
Several directors including finance director, Pol Clark; head of the audit committee, Geoffrey Piper; and Roy Morris, TMP's chairman, later left the organisation. Morris' tenure as chairman was already due to end under TMP's constitution.
TMP said this latest agreement incorporated a working protocol clearly defining roles for inward investment activity, including enquiry handling, investor development and aftercare.
A newly recruited sales team will be also working alongside investment colleagues to generate leads and target companies which currently have no presence in the Liverpool city region.
Rogers said: "This is a groundbreaking commitment by Merseyside's six local authorities, who are united in support for TMP in its investment role for the Liverpool city region. It clearly underlines the confidence they have in us to drive forward inward investment on behalf of the entire city region.
"Our collective approach coupled with improved funding levels make us better equipped than ever before to make a greater impact on prospective investors. The decision making process often takes many months – or even years – and a long-term strategy is essential. Moving from a one-year funding commitment to a three-year agreement represents real progress and enables TMP to plan ahead."
Mark Basnett, director of operations at TMP, added: "As the inward investment body for the Liverpool city region, TMP will be building on its existing strengths in project management, lead generation and aftercare services – with the quality of our people, property and lifestyle among the messages we'll be promoting in the national and international marketplace.
"With the continued regeneration of the Liverpool City Region, we are in a great position to take advantage of new opportunities and bring a renewed impetus to inward investment activities."
Priorities for TMP's investment team over the coming months will include campaigns in growth sectors such as financial, professional and business services, maritime and logistics, science and technology and creative industries.