Private and public partnerships strengthen Hampshire's economy
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Maintaining strong relationships between the public sector and businesses remains crucial to the ongoing viability of Hampshire's economy according to the Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber.
The third Hampshire Business Conference, held in Ashburton Hall, EII Court, Winchester on Tuesday 23 October and facilitated by Hampshire County Council, brought together 100 local business leaders to discuss how Hampshire's businesses could position themselves to thrive.
The conference provided valuable insight for the delegates into current concerns and priorities for local businesses, as well as feedback on initiatives that the Council had developed since last year's event such as the 'Hampshire Broadband Programme', 'Invest in Hampshire' and 'Visit Hampshire' projects.
The conference showed delegates from both private and public sectors how the Council is creating the right conditions for businesses to prosper in the county, how they can benefit from measures introduced by the Council to actively grow the local economy and how smarter technology can help Hampshire's businesses to flourish. The evening ended with a panel discussion where delegates were able to quiz the speakers on aspects of business and policy.
Councillor Ken Thornber, Leader and Executive Member for Policy and Resources, welcomed the delegates and said that the full house reflected the shared enthusiasm to develop and grow Hampshire's economy.
Councillor Thornber said that a message that the Council had received from business over the last year was that, "a lack of robust broadband was one of the barriers to business, negatively impacting on efficiency and competitiveness." He spoke about the Hampshire Broadband Programme saying, "Using £5 million of government funding, matched by Hampshire County Council and district council partners, superfast broadband capable of 24 Megabits per second will be available to 90% of homes and businesses in Hampshire by 2015, with everyone else having access to standard broadband of at least 2 Megabits per second."
Another clear message from last year's conference was the need to raise the profile of Hampshire, continued Councillor Thornber:
"As a county that prides itself on its proximity to, and yet diversity from, the capital, Hampshire has enjoyed some knock-on benefit from the Olympics which brought an estimated £10-12 million for the local economy in addition to the 186 local companies that won contracts worth a total of £36 million. More work is now to be done to ensure that Hampshire becomes an essential part of the UK's international reputation. Our 'Invest in Hampshire' and 'Visit Hampshire' brands are growing and will be at the forefront of our work in attracting more business and visitors to the county."
Another request from business had been a simpler procurement process and a pared down Pre-Qualification Questionnaire was now in place for companies that wished to become Council suppliers. The Leader added, "We are also involved in a series of events to help local businesses become suppliers, from 'Meet the Buyer' to our 'Doing Business with Hampshire' conference to be held in Ashburton Hall next month that will guide you through the process of becoming a supplier."
The Leader said that this year's buzzword was 'partnership' and that private and public sectors needed to work together, pool resources, achieve more and bring maximum benefit to everyone. The two Local Enterprise Partnerships which cover the county were essential ingredients for this to happen, and Councillor Thornber welcomed Geoff French, Chair of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership to the evening's programme. Geoff French, from URS, covered the importance of environment and infrastructure for business and economic growth and the role that Local Enterprise Partnerships and others can play in delivering it.
Councillor Thornber reported that, "The recent investment plans for the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus are a good example of how local partners can work together to deliver development and jobs that will strengthen the county's economy and its key sectors."
Councillor Thornber finished the evening by saying, "There is always potential for further progress, but Hampshire is most certainly not standing still as it strives to get fit for the future."