Newly appointed Chair at Coast to Capital, Julie Kapsalis, sets out her goal to achieve sustainable and diverse growth for the local economy.
The Coast to Capital Board is a unique partnership of Local Authority, University, Further Education and high profile business leaders who come together with diverse ideas and passion for the region. Together, the Board helps to promote local economic growth by influencing policy-decisions, supporting local businesses and investing in key infrastructure projects from a number of funding programmes including a £300 million Local Growth Fund portfolio.
An Interview with Julie Kapsalis
Julie is Managing Director of Chichester College Group with responsibility for a portfolio of commercial businesses including a chain of childcare nurseries, examination board and international education. She is a board member of the Institute of Economic Development, Gatwick Diamond Business and is the immediate past Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She is passionate about supporting business growth with a particular interest in skills, enterprise and social mobility.
When did you first start working with Coast to Capital?
“Whilst I'm new to the role of chair I'm not new at Coast to Capital. I've been on the board for over 6 years and for the past year have been Vice Chair. I'm absolutely thrilled to have taken on the role and I'm so proud of our achievements and investments, working with a wide range of stakeholders across the region.”
Which achievements are you most proud of?
Projects that stand out for me include investments in the Aldingbourne Trust, Charleston Trust and the Crawley Growth Programme. In addition to our grants for SMEs including PVL, Brighton Gin, Vampire’s Wife, Hepworth Brewery and Ridgeview Wines.”
How does COVID-19 affect your priorities?
“COVID-19 requires the Board to play an even more important role in supporting our region and its recovery. Collaboration and innovation will be key and I'm committed to working with our partners to address issues and challenges facing our businesses and communities.”
What would you like to achieve throughout your tenure?
“I'd like to place an even greater focus on social mobility and a really strong commitment to equality and diversity. It's a huge privilege to be chair of Coast to Capital and I want to thank our outgoing chair Tim Wates for his outstanding leadership. I remain committed to ensuring the sustainable economic recovery of our region and to driving forwards our vision to build back stronger, smarter and greener – working with our partners to make a difference to people and places and ensuring that our region is a fantastic place to live, grow and succeed.”
Case Study: Supporting SMEs
Lorama Foods is a quality bakery with its own label products, and white label manufacturing facility, producing products for some of the leading brands. Specialising in sports nutrition bars and protein balls. Starting a business from scratch is tough, but siblings and fellow directors Rachel Lavelle and Martin King were up for the challenge when they launched the West Sussex based company.
With the usual worries about cash flow, staffing and a myriad of stressful problems faced by small business owners, they set to designing and building their own facility. Rachel was introduced to the Coast to Capital Growth Hub support programmes and met regularly with other business owners.
The confidence, ideas and positive energy had a huge impact at Lorama Foods. Although eligible for a grant from Coast to Capital’s Growth Grant Programme, the business found funding through investors. Three years after its launch, the company has an anticipated turnover for 2020 of £1m. This is expected to rise to £3.5m by 2021, an increase of 350%.
Case Study: Championing a diverse culture
In March, a Diversity Lunch was held at the Coast to Capital Offices with the Board to coincide with International Women’s Day to celebrate our diversity achievements and commitments. These include:
- 7 out of 19 Board members are women (exceeding the target set by Government) and we are committed to reaching 50% by 2023.
- An internal Diversity Working Group has been established to review and implement activity in relation to equality and diversity.
- We continue to work with our Expert in Residence, as recommended in the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, which helps us to ensure that engagement with, and support of, women business owners is equitable.
Economy Watch: Helping to rebuild the Coast to Capital economy
The impact of COVID has proven to be particularly targeted on our areas of economic strength, meaning that our economy appears to be among the worst affected in the country. Given the considerable impact of the pandemic, we commissioned research to further understand the impact on the wider Coast to Capital economy.
The headline finding is that we estimate a GVA net loss of £9.8 billion (17%) between 2019 and 2020, which is higher than the national average (13%) and based on only ‘one lockdown’ scenario. Our high GVA loss is likely due to our dominant sectors being adversely affected by lockdown restrictions.
The education sector is hardest hit experiencing a 38% loss. Unsurprisingly, the arts and entertainment sector is next hardest hit experiencing a 37% loss, followed by a 36% loss for the accommodation and food sector.
This is still very much a moving picture that we are continuing to monitor closely. We are committed to providing impartial and relevant information on the evolving regional economic picture. This puts us in the unique position to provide our strategic role for the region. Follow our Economy Watch blog series for regular insights coast2capital.org.uk/economy-watch-blog
Keep up to date by visiting the website coast2capital.org.uk and following us on Twitter @coast2capital