New Coast to Capital Chair Julie Kapsalis welcomed guests by highlighting the resilience and determination of partners in recent months, working together to leverage support and investment against the challenging backdrop of COVID-19. Julie also reinforced her commitment to supporting the economic and social recovery of our disproportionality affected region, in a sustainable and inclusive way.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Chief Executive Jonathan Sharrock drew attention to successes from the past year. This included being awarded an 'Exceptional' in Governance following the LEPs annual review, supporting over 1,000 individual businesses throughout lockdown with a 93% satisfaction rate, and being allocated £19.2 million from central government's new 'Getting Building Fund'. In addition to awarding £2 million to 160 businesses through the new Backing Business Grants set up to support businesses during the emergency response to the pandemic.
Attendees heard that Coast to Capital's ambition is to build back stronger, smarter and greener. To build back stronger, Coast to Capital will support Crawley with a plan to grow and evolve the UK's most COVID-19 impacted town into a more economically diverse and dynamic place. To build back smarter, the LEP will build upon the knowledge and innovation community which already exists in Brighton. To build back greener, Coast to Capital will draw on the talented workforce and local business specialisms, to lead a green recovery across the whole region.
This is supported by the publication of a new COVID-19 Economic Impact Assessment which examines the economic impact on the region. This builds directly onto the extensive evidence base developed in preparation for a Local Industrial Strategy, prior to the pandemic. Together these form the basis for economic recovery planning for the region.
The importance of addressing skills challenges and working across sectors to gain a better understanding of progression and careers opportunities was also highlighted. The new 'Skills Action Plan' sets out the skills strategy to support the recovery and future resilience of the people, businesses and places in the local economy. It has been produced by the Skills 360 Board, the Skills Advisory Panel for the area and is the result of significant research, analysis, engagement and consultation.
Julie Kapsalis, Coast to Capital Chair said:
"My vision for Coast to Capital is to make bold decisions - to lead the way and to instigate change. I also want to ensure a brilliant future for the next generation. I want them to live, grow and succeed in a fantastic region. We should also be best in class by providing innovative leadership, expertly brokering solutions to support recovery and growth and to deliver transformational and inclusive change."
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital said:
"It's been a year like no other and I am absolutely delighted with how well Coast to Capital has responded to the challenge. Our vision to build back stronger, smarter and greener will require existing and new partnerships spanning the public, private and third sectors to ensure the greatest impact for our region"
The event closed with an interactive Q&A session with Coast to Capital Board Members including Amanda Jones (Business Representative), Mark Brunt (Leader of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council) and Frances Rutter (Chair of Skills 360 Board), discussing opportunities such as enhanced partnership working, provision for the significantly affected tourism sector and supporting the aspirations of young people.