East Anglia: Region needs to make ‘robust’ case for inward investment or risk losing out, New Anglia LEP chief warns

New Anglia LEP chairman Mark Pendlington with copies of the East Anglian Daily Times and its Norfolk

New Anglia LEP chairman Mark Pendlington with copies of the East Anglian Daily Times and its Norfolk sister title the Eastern Daily Press headlining the LEP's success in securiing Government funding for projects to support growth and infrastructure improvements. - Credit: Keith Whitmore

East Anglia must “shake off its modesty and welcome the world” or risk losing its status as an economic and social powerhouse, one of the region’s top business leaders will warn today.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enteprise Partnership (LEP), will use the organisation’s annual general meeting to launch “One East”, an initiative bringing together an expert team to develop the business case for locating to Suffolk and Norfolk.

And he will warn that, faced with the rising challenge of northern cities with “confidence and powerful propositions” attracting world-wide attention and investment from government, East Anglia could lose place as a global magnet for inward investment unless it is equally robust and persuasive.

“Thousands of businesses large and small see Norfolk and Suffolk as a great economic hub,” Mr Pendlington will tell the meeting, to be held at Centrum on the Norwich Research Park.

“Our big challenge is to keep them here and attract more, so we need a really robust and persuasive recruitment and retention strategy for national and international business.

“Our message needs to be heard much louder and clearer: New Anglia is open for business, for access to great education and skills, and for world leading research and innovation.

“There is a place in our economy for people of all talents and abilities and global companies have every right to have high expectations of us. It’s up to us to deliver.

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“Let’s get ministers talking instinctively about the East and the North. Both are equally important. Otherwise we risk killing the golden goose of the East that is laying so many shiny and valuable golden eggs.”

Mr Pendlington will also highlight the achievements of the LEP, together with its public, private and education sector partners, including a multi-million pound Growth Deal with the Government that will see new roads, colleges, business funding and increased superfast broadband coverage, but will add that this has “only just scratched the surface”.

“We welcome the scale of investment already secured, but know that continued funding depends on us providing a really compelling business case to government,” he will say.

“My call today, is for us to shake off any complacency and to focus on the big prizes we need and deserve. And in return, I re-commit the LEP and all those who work with us, to being tireless campaigners and advocates for the growth and success of the economy.”

Refering to the Great Eastern Rail Campaign for greater investment in the London-Ipswich-Norwich main line, which Mr Pendlington leads, he will say: “We deserve so much better than 25-year-old rolling stock, historic under investment and unreliable services.”

And on the threat to stop the direct service from Norwich to Liverpool he says: “We need to make it inconceivable that the Government would ever think about withdrawing this service which provides an essential east-west link to the growing economies of the north and west and which provides direct access for over 300,000 students a year to our colleges and universities.”

To rally active support Mr Pendlington will be targeting business leaders across Norfolk and Suffolk starting with the top 50 business leaders to ask them what the LEP can do to help them become even more successful, but also asking them to go “the extra mile to help us deliver our ambitious targets for growth, new jobs, extra homes and new businesses.”