County plan for economy

HERTFORDSHIRE S Economic Partnership is forging ahead with its plans to support employers and residents through the recession. The partnership, which replaced Herts Prosperity, held its first meeting at which it agreed its structure, governance arrangemen

HERTFORDSHIRE'S Economic Partnership is forging ahead with its plans to support employers and residents through the recession.

The partnership, which replaced Herts Prosperity, held its first meeting at which it agreed its structure, governance arrangements and key priorities for the year.

The board, chaired by Hertfordshire County Council leader Cllr Robert Gordon, also agreed to:

l The development of a new economic vision and strategy for Hertfordshire to be officially launched in November;


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l The creation of a countywide Business Forum by July

l The creation of a two-year Inward Investment Manager post focused on attracting new business into Hertfordshire and promoting the growth of foreign-based employers currently in the county.

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Cllr Gordon said: "I'm very pleased with the progress we have made, but there is still much to be done.

"We need to promote Hertfordshire as a good place for business to encourage investment, growth and entrepreneurship. To do that, we need a greater understanding of the views and needs of local employers and that is what we are striving to achieve."

The partnership encompasses the work of an economic taskforce set up by the county council at the start of the year to help residents and employers weather the effects of the economic downturn.

At its meeting, the board endorsed a 20-point pledge from the taskforce, which can be found at www.hertsdirect.org

The partnership consists of representatives from the county and district councils, University of Hertfordshire, Exemplas, Herts Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the East of England Development Agency, colleges of further education, and the voluntary sector.

It will be supported by Hertfordshire County Council's economic development budget of �180,000-�200,000 per annum, and secondments, jointly-funded posts, research capacity and match funding from the University of Hertfordshire and Herts Chamber of Commerce, equivalent to �240,000 per annum. The partnership will also search for sources of external funding.

Among its aims is to:

* Create a new economic development vision and strategy

* Carry out county and district level economic assessments

* Promote and support inward investment and business retention

* Engage with the business sector

* Secure external funding and support for bids

* Co-ordinate response to recession

* Support delivery of economic development at district level

* Give a strategic overview of skills agenda and business support programmes

* Create a recession taskforce.

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