How to collaborate with your Local Enterprise Partnership
If you work with like-minded colleagues in the sector, you can establish mutually beneficial relationships with a Local Enterprise Partnership. But you have to do it in a coherent way that helps the LEP engage with you effectively.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (known as 'LEPs') are partnerships between local authorities and businesses. They play a central role in determining local economic priorities and undertake activities to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs. LEPs also lead the investment strategy for a range of domestic and European public funds.
Are you interested in how your sector can generate jobs, increase skills and contribute to place-making? If yes, it’s in your interest to be aware of what your local LEP is doing.
Research your LEP
The first step is to check out your LEP's website. Browse their resources and reports. Take a look at their board, strategy and the sectors they are prioritising in order to drive growth. Are they planning meetings and events that you could be a part of?
At High House Production Park in Thurrock, we have developed a strong partnership with the South East LEP. But they didn't just come knocking on our door – I got in touch, found out about their work, provided a venue for LEP meetings and took the time to get to know my new colleagues.
It didn't take me long to see that it is modest in terms of the size of its dedicated staff team.
Getting stuck in with a LEP
My aim for our area was to form a creative and cultural sector group, which could feed into the South East LEP's agenda.
All LEPs will want to understand how the economy in their area is made up and will be interested to hear from an authoritative group.
The real trick of making things work in a LEP is getting business leaders (like me) to roll up their sleeves and work practically as part of a large-scale public-private partnership.
With this in mind, I volunteered to convene a group of willing creative sector leaders and their local authority counterparts. This provided expert capacity to enable the South East LEP to collate a valuable evidence base about our sector.
It turns out the South East LEP has a creative economy worth £2.5 billion and it employs 30,000 people!
Taking the initiative for your sector
South East LEP colleagues are delighted to have a LEP-wide creative and cultural sector group that has stepped up to the plate.
Its key achievement has been in devising a shared prospectus of initiatives to profile and advance the wide-ranging contribution that the creative and cultural sector can make to place-making, innovation, enterprise, job creation and skills.
My group co-wrote this South East LEP prospectus, which has truly positioned the area as a nationally important player in the growth of the creative economy.
When a LEP doesn't cover the creative sector
Don’t despair if your sector isn’t profiled. It doesn't mean that they are not interested, and it might just be an opportunity for your sector to establish a relationship.
All LEPs will want to understand how the economy in their area is made up and will be interested to hear from an authoritative group of people that can contribute their know-how.
Wherever you are, remember that collaboration is at the heart of engaging with a LEP. It may be up to you to help to define the set of issues you think they could focus on and bring people together to do so.