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The Marches LEP – Chairman’s Bulletin No. 36 – 30.04.2012


May 1, 2012 by oswestrychamberoftrade

In this issue: Marches Exporting for Growth, RAF Cosford meeting and Catalyst UK

Export takes centre stage

Helping SMEs to begin trading internationally was the focus of The Marches Exporting for Growth event last Friday, which attracted more than 100 delegates representing businesses from diverse sectors in the region.

I was delighted to meet and hear from so many companies which are either planning to import or export for the first time as well as those businesses which are already successfully trading overseas and looking to increase their export pace in new markets.

Delegates heard from Ludlow MP Philip Dunne, who was instrumental in launching the event, representatives from UK Trade & Industry as well as speakers from companies at different stages of their international trade programmes.

We have a job to do in the Marches to build our business base. Around 86 per cent of companies here are SMEs, employing fewer than ten people. We want to get them exporting and this will create more jobs for our region. If we can get 100,000 new businesses to start exporting in the UK, that would have a tremendous effect on the UK trade deficit.

Export is of vital importance for the good of business, the economic development of the Marches and indeed for the balance sheet of the whole of UK Ltd. We operate in a global marketplace and every business has the means to market its products or services all over the world.

Thanks must go to our speakers who gave up their time to give their first-hand experiences of international trade, including Simon MacVicker, of Bridgnorth Aluminium; Paul Myers of Brit Part in Craven Arms; Stephanie Roberts of Mutneys, in Whitchurch and Colin Sinclair of Shrewsbury- based The Whisky Tasting Company.

The event was organised by Shropshire Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the LEP and I’m grateful for all the hard work which went into creating such an informative and successful event.

I’d also like to echo Philip Dunne’s rallying call to businesses to consider making the most of the national headline events happening this year. Not only will we be celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee but also the London Olympics. The Games has its own particular connection to our region, in Much Wenlock, and there exists a fantastic opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the huge international interest in both our region and the country in 2012.

Global network working with UKTI

I’m delighted to have been invited to join Catalyst UK, a global network of business leaders, influencers and academics, working with UK Trade & Investment to promote UK excellence internationally. The network has been created to develop opportunities for business and government to work closely together with members representing many business sectors.

It is anticipated that through the sharing of knowledge and insights, members of Catalyst UK will inspire SMEs to internationalise and champion the UK as the number one business partner of choice.

Members represent many business sectors including ICT, Healthcare, Creative Industries, Financial Services, Aerospace, Professional & Business Services, Engineering, Environment, Marine & Defence, Chemicals, Sustainable Development, Oil & Gas, Mining, Agri-Tech and Power. The network offers a channel into government for comments on issues affecting the UK and global business environments.

Concern over RAF base future

Recently, I visited RAF Cosford, the base for the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE), with Maitland Hyslop, Chairman of the Stoke and Staffordshire LEP, Stewart Towe CBE, Chairman of the Black Country LEP.

You will no doubt have seen recent stories in the media concerning RAF Cosford, including reports on the £158million defence training review and plans to create a new defence training college in Wiltshire. We are concerned that despite the scrapping of plans to move the DCAE to a new Defence Technical College in South Wales, there may still be consideration given to moving the college plus other key parts of this hub of deeply embedded technical skills to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

I have written to the All Party Group on the Economy of the West Midlands giving our views on how important it is, for our regional economy and for the prosperity of the UK in general, that the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) and other technical training operational units stay put for the long term at RAF Cosford.

The site is impressive in its breadth of facilities, its substantial technical and engineering plant and equipment, and its unique research and development capabilities, complete with unrivalled access to flying machinery that few or no other research centres have at their disposal.

My letter to the All Party Group also outlined some ideas which we hope will be considered as potential revenue-generating options for RAF Cosford. Also with excellent brands in the area, there is a good opportunity to create very fruitful links between the RAF itself and with aerospace and automotive companies, which could see use of technical training resources in a way that obviates duplication.

I have invited the All Party Group to visit the site and offered to liaise with the base to set up a meeting.

Marches LEP Development Fund

The deadline for Expressions of Interest for the first round of funding for the £8.1 million Marches LEP Development Fund must be returned no later than 5pm on May 2. The funds aims to help generate economic activity in the short term by addressing immediate infrastructure and site constraints and promote the delivery of sustainable private sector jobs and housing. Further information can be found at

For further information on the work of the Marches LEP go to our website at, follow us on Twitter @MarchesLEP and we’d be delighted to hear your feedback at



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