A think-tank of leading experts have outlined their ideas for how the Essex economy can realise its full potential.
Economists, business leaders and academics from the Essex Economic Commission met at Anglia Ruskin University today (Friday, 23 March) to discuss the report and the future shape of the Essex economy.
Their report, Enterprising Essex: Meeting the Challenge analyses Essex’s competitive position and how the County ranks against its neighbours.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said that Essex saw its role and future in a national context.
He said: “We need Essex to become a key part of a national powerhouse. Entrepreneurial Essex has a huge contribution to make to UKPLC. The Government has focused quite rightly on Manchester and Birmingham for the past few years, but it’s now time for Essex and the wider South East to receive infrastructure investment.
“We will continue to make positive steps with partners and work with Essex councils to inspire our residents and people outside of Essex to come and live, work and set up business here.”
The product of two years research, the report characterises Essex as an innovative and entrepreneurial county, but needing better connectivity, more premises for expanding businesses, and warns against leaving coastal communities isolated from the potential benefits.
The county is praised as a national leader on the number of start-up businesses andbenefits from its close links to London, two international airports and ports which provide global opportunities.
The report makes 14 recommendations that would help the county reach its potential as a UK powerhouse, including addressing specific skills shortages, improving roads and rail links and building more commercial workplaces.
Dr Andrew Sentance CBE, Chair of the Commission, said: "Essex is a very multi-faceted economy, with a number of substantial centres of activity across the county and a very diverse range of sectors contributing to economic growth. The ability of different local interests to work together to engage national policy-makers and support broader economic growth will be the key to its economic success.
“Key findings from the report included that a much more ‘joined up’ approach to develop the economy, barriers to growth need to be removed in order to improve conditions, more commercial premises need to be found, the skills deficit needs to be addressed but many of the issues facing skills and education in Essex are national policy issues. Transport and digital connectivity needs to be improved as well as looking at how to improve education and employment in coastal areas. Essex has huge potential and can become one of the fastest growing economies outside London.”