Technological industry urged to drive local economy

Technology will continue to play an enormous role in the development of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire says local LEP Chairman.

David Frost CBE, Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has underpinned the role that technology companies can play in transforming the region in his 42-page Strategic Economic Plan.

Speaking to risual’s Tim Gee, he said: “To me, simplistically, it’s about creating more jobs, creating better jobs and creating higher paid jobs. More jobs we’ve clearly been doing with an extra 25,000 jobs over last 5 years and there’s been some evidence of better jobs, but creating higher-paid jobs is the big challenge.”

In the latest in a series of Public Sector Broadcasts filmed at risual HQ, Tim Gee – risual’s Sales Manager and former Health and Life Sciences Sales Manager at Microsoft UK – and Mr Frost discussed the Chairman’s ideas for the future of the region, including the potential he sees for it to become a technological hub. Echoing risual’s sentiment of a ‘Silicon Stafford’ – rather than Silicon Valley – which would bring businesses together to create a technology rich epicentre, Mr Frost said: “What I would like to see is the development of a tech cluster. We’ve got a lot of leading companies here involved in the sector but it’s not joined up. I often reflect on what the prize would be if we could join them up.”

risual have been involved with LEPs for some time now, including sponsoring last year’s LEP Dinner in October which brought together The Rt. Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and The Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy amongst others to talk about bridging the digital skills gap.

The role of an LEP is to contribute at local level as a public-private partnership, bringing together local authority and business leaders to map and deliver an economic plan for the area. David Frost is Chairman for one of the 39 LEPs operating across England, striving to drive economic growth and create more local jobs for their respective region.

Mr Frost’s strategy encompasses his vision for Stoke and Staffordshire right up until 2030, and believes that local business like risual are critical in helping the region to continue its rapid growth. He said: “Businesses should get involved because businesses such as yourself have scale and understanding. You’re the people that will drive the economy. We can help solve the problem, but you have got to drive it by articulating what you want and how you see the future. Then we can look into it to see how we can help out.”

This is just the beginning too, with many promising developments coming to the Midlands in the coming years, not least HS2, which presents a huge opportunity for the county to take advantage of.

Speaking of the projects potential, Mr Frost said: “We’re working with Cheshire and Warrington LEPs on when HS2 comes into Crewe, how we can maximise value and then plan for future linking in the area. There is a real opportunity for a cluster with communications onto the rail that would have companies such as risual, but also attract and bring in bright people from Universities to work.”

With such developments in the pipeline, there’s every reason for people in the region to be excited about the technological developments, with an optimistic outlook firmly in the frame.