Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership has published its first annual report, reflecting on its achievements and outlining its plans for the future, with its vision to be “world-renowned for innovation, entrepreneurialism, and a great quality of life by 2026”.
The report reveals that total investment in Swindon and Wiltshire for the year was more than £485m, and more than 5,000 new jobs were directly created, with over 18,700 created indirectly, as a result of this investment.
Skills, says the report, is the Partnership’s “current number one priority”. A Growth Deal bid in 2016 highlighted need for investment in Wiltshire College’s campuses at Salisbury and Lackham, and £22.03m was allocated to improve facilities in 2017/18.
Meanwhile, the £1.4m Higher Futures programme was launched to address the skills gap.
Transport and infrastructure has seen total investment of £40.63m, with £30.19m being allocated to seven schemes to improve transport infrastructure, which will leverage £10.44m in match funding.
Already completed are a £2m project to construct two new roundabouts near the Dyson facility in Malmesbury to support its plans to hire 3,000 new engineers; and £1.67m invested in converting a section of the A350 around Chippenham into dual carriageway, with £1.67m leveraged in match funding.
SWLEP’s place-shaping programme to reinvigorate key settlements has seen £104.86m of Local Growth Deal funding allocated to eight place-shaping schemes, which have drawn in a further £297.76m of match-funding.
Already completed is the £5.3m upgrade to Greenbridge roundabout in east Swindon to ensure traffic will flow more freely when 8,000 new homes are constructed as part of the New Eastern Villages development.
£6.9m has been invested to support the area’s digital capability, with £3.5m of Local Growth Fund money invested in two schemes to support the development of digital infrastructure, which will draw in a further £3.4m of match funding.
£1m has been invested towards delivery of ultrafast (100MB per second) and next generation broadband (30MBs) to 1,875 rural businesses.
The Partnership has also been focussing on business development, supporting 537 established businesses, 52 pre-starts, and 49 start-ups with help and advice through the Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub.
The report also provides a useful snapshot of the state of the local economy: there are now 29,185 businesses in Swindon an Wiltshire – 20 percent growth since 2011.
Of those, the majority – 89.9 percent – are micro businesses of 0-9 employees, 8.2 percent are small businesses of 10-49 employees, 1.6 percent are medium of 50-249 employees, and 0.4 percent are large businesses, employing 250+ people.
SWLEP is a partnership between Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council, the military the education sector, and the business community. Seventy percent of the board are drawn from the private business world.
As an incorporated partnership, publication of an annual report is not mandatory, but SWLEP has made provision to do so in its constitution as part of its commitment to transparency and accountability.
The full report can be accessed at www.swlep.co.uk/annualreport.aspx