On May 31, 2021, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) will celebrate its tenth birthday. Over the past decade, SEMLEP has been committed to helping economic growth thrive in the South East Midlands, putting our businesses, places and people at the forefront of everything it does.
From managing a capital investment programme worth £265m, creating 5,523 jobs, supporting 5,523 learners and enabling 4,692 homes, to providing dedicated business support through the Growth Hub, SEMLEP’s programmes directly benefit our area.
To mark SEMLEP’s birthday, Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive at SEMLEP has shared her reflections and milestone moments over the past ten years:
Having worked as a part of SEMLEP from day one, I’m beyond proud of our achievements over the past ten years. From being rated Exceptional in the 2019 Annual Performance review to successfully managing multi-million-pound capital investment programmes, we’ve achieved a lot.
As we approach our tenth anniversary, I decided to take a look back and share our milestone year-by-year achievements:
SEMLEP was launched in 2011 with Dr Ann Limb CBE DL appointed as Chair.
In 2012, SEMLEP secured its first investment for the South East Midlands, an £18m investment through the government’s Growing Places Fund.
When 2013 came around, operations began to get moving. With the board and sector groups appointed, SEMLEP welcomed a £10bn national Growth Fund and appointed Daniel Mouawad as Chief Executive.
2014 was a year of exciting developments in SEMLEP. We submitted our first Strategic Economic Plan to the government, we joined local businesses to launch Velocity, our first business support programme, and we were awarded a £64.6m Local Growth Deal to invest in our area.
In 2015 we secured future capital investment to boost our area. Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Business Secretary signed a £79.3m Local Growth Fund deal for South East Midlands. Following this, we also showcased the value of skills development at the largest business-to-business exhibition of the year at the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey.
2016 saw SEMLEP and NEP (Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership) merge, with Stephen Catchpole being appointed Chief Executive. As well as big changes within the LEP, Milton Keynes held the first National Apprenticeship Show, bringing employers and students together to showcase opportunities.
During 2017 we brought business leaders from across the area together to celebrate their success at Show Me Success in Milton Keynes, and we launched our new Strategic Economic Plan, setting out ambitions to double the size of the South East Midlands’ economy.
Having worked within the LEP since 2011, in 2018 I was appointed Chief Executive and started work to merge SEMLEP’s two Growth Hubs to form a more connected business support offering across the patch.
2019 set out our strategic direction for the future. Peter Horrocks CBE was appointed Chair of SEMLEP, and we went on to publish our Energy Strategy, Local Industrial Strategy, Community Grants and Make the Connection area brochure. We joined MPs in the House of Commons to discuss our area’s unique capabilities and were named Exceptional in the Annual LEP Performance Review. To finish the year, we brought stakeholders together to discuss clean, green growth, pledging our commitment to sustainable developments.
Presenting both challenges and opportunities, 2020 forced us to adapt our thinking. After launching a new programme designed to help grow businesses, our Growth Hub team quickly adapted their operations to support businesses in navigating the pandemic. The dedicated team worked weekends to provide additional support to business owners, helping them access government support and adapt their operations. Later in the year, we were awarded £27.3m through the Getting Building Fund. The capital investment funding continues to help us support COVID-19 recovery across the area, alongside our Economic Recovery Strategy, published in December.
In 2021, we continue our commitment to making the South East Midlands a place where people want to live, work and visit. We’re supporting businesses to stabilise, recover and grow. We’re working with partners to establish the Oxford to Cambridge Arc and East West Rail, unlocking further growth opportunities. We’re supporting people to develop new skills, helping them to secure employment and progress. We’re delivering investment into our places to enable new facilities, create jobs and unlock further economic growth in the area.
Over my ten years at SEMLEP, I’ve met hundreds of people, worked with a variety of partners and have grown the SEMLEP team to over 40 employees.
From businesses working alongside schools to embed better careers information to universities sharing business growth tips with SMEs in the area, I want to say thank you.
I’m proud of our achievements to date and it’s clear that together, we’re making a difference.
As we celebrate our tenth birthday in true SEMLEP style, planting 10 trees, walking 10,000 steps, sharing 10 business top tips and more, I’m excited about the future.
Our ambition is to build on the South East Midlands’ reputation as a premier location for growth, innovation, creativity and world-leading technologies, which will result in a doubling of the area’s GVA by 2050.
Through our partnerships, connections and programmes, I believe that ambition will soon become reality. We look forward to continuing to work together collaboratively to create that cleaner greener future.
For more information about the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) visit their website.