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The Business Magazine July 2024
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CW Growth Hub chief backing campaign to give local authorities more power

Craig Humphrey - picture contributed
Craig Humphrey - picture contributed
24 November 2023
Craig Humphrey - picture contributed

Craig Humphrey, the chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire growth hub, is backing a campaign to give local councils legal powers to help economic development in their regions.

He highlighted that the business support landscape was changing across the country, particularly with the integration of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) into local democratic institutions or stand-alone organisations.

READ MORE: Business Solutions pioneers help for growing companies in Coventry & Warwickshire

Now, the Institute of Economic Development (IED) has launched a manifesto urging local authorities to be given statutory powers over economic development ahead of next year's anticipated general election.

"It is now over six months since we became an independent organisation with our new shareholders – Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council – and it is important we still have the autonomy and operational control to deliver against their objectives and those set by government to promote opportunities and growth across Coventry and Warwickshire," said Humphrey.

"We have managed the transition smoothly through collaboration and the established close relationships we have developed with our local authority partners.

"But quite often, economic development can become the victim when budgets are being tightened which can be a backward step in job creation and attracting investment to an area.

"The ideas put forward by the IED to ask for local authorities to be given statutory powers for economic development and to continue the Growth Hub model led by upper tier local authorities is welcome and is exactly the model we have in Coventry and Warwickshire.

"If there was an accountability structure giving local authorities a legal duty to deliver economic development it would ensure local needs of businesses were taken into account since these vary from area to area and would help the UK to increase its productivity."

In the last nine years, CW Growth Hub support has led to the creation of over 10,800 jobs, added over £400 million in gross value to the local economy, and leveraged over £300 million in private sector investment for businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire.

One of its current aims is to target so-called 'scale-up' companies throughout the sub-region, of which 365 in Coventry and Warwickshire have been identified, according to The ScaleUp Institute’s annual review.

These businesses have employment and turnover growing by an average of more than 20% every year for three consecutive years. There are also a further 185 businesses, which have the potential to scale-up.

CW Growth Hub account managers Justine Chadwick and Jim Clark have been tasked with contacting these high-growth businesses and helping to provide the support they need.

"Whilst making up only 0.5% of the SME population they generate 58% of the total output which makes them significant generators of wealth across all sectors.

"Scale-ups add more value to the economy because of their ability to continue high-level growth and create high-value jobs as well as build an area’s profile which can attract inward investment," said Humphrey.

CW Growth Hub is supported by funders including Coventry city council, Warwickshire county council and Warwickshire's district and borough councils.

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Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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