Posted on

Three ways economic development can help business today

 

What are the three ways economic development can help business today?

Collecting the bins and planning are statutory functions at most local authorities in England, economic development  (ED) function is not a statutory function.  So it is right that we ask what is the value of economic development and what contribution does it make to business growth.

This article sets out the three ways economic development can help business today.   So here we go, we hope this article contributes to the discussion about what local government can do to boost business.

  1. Bring together local agencies
    Economic development should have a focus on bringing growth and investment to the area.   As an economic development professional your role is to stay focussed on this.  In England local authorities cannot set the tone and direction for economic development by themselves.  Economic development has a collaborative attitude which recognises the uniqueness and value that other organisations can bring.  Economic growth comes through collaboration.   Central government, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Councils, Chambers of Commerce all have a part to play.   Success will only come from these agencies collaborate.

  2. Share insight
    There is such a wealth of information and data available to us.  We do not need to rely on who shouts loudest in the room, or those with fixed opinions based on personal prejudices.

    By sharing data we can bring different sources together to build a nuanced, clear picture of the current situation.   This will then lead to insights and perspectives on the problem.  For example at a recent client meeting we were able to bring new data on road traffic patterns which fundamentally changed the ways the client “framed” the problem of traffic exiting a business park.

  3. Set out and own a vision for the district
    We’ve been saving the best until last!  It is not the job of business to create and own vision for the locality.   Business look to local authorities for vision and leadership of place.   Leadership and vision is central to economic development

    So let’s get to work!

 

 

Posted on

The real reason for a Jobs Fair

For the last few months we have been working with colleagues at The Galleria shopping centre. That work will come to fruition this week at the Galleria Jobs Fair!

The Jobs Fair at the Galleria Shopping Centre will highlight the range of jobs that are available now.  Even though they are local jobs, for many local people this will be the first time they have considered working for the employers at the event.

The benefit is also for the employers who are coming to the Jobs Fair.   The event has been really popular with employers.  The event has been so popular that we quickly exceeded the maximum number of places available:  Last week we had to find more space for the extra employers who wished to come to the event!

The value of the Jobs Fair will be different according to whether you are a job seeker or an employer.   If you are a job seeker and you find your ideal job that is a result for you.  If you are are an employer and you find an employee to help your business that is also a result.

But wait!  There is also another reason this is a good thing.  There is a real reason that the Jobs Fair is good for the local area.  New ideas are created, aspirations are raised and change happens, by bringing together employers and job seekers under roof.   Here at Red Potato we are pleased to have been a part of this process

Red Potato will broadcast a live video stream from the event in Hatfield; so make sure you tune in to the show via Periscope!

Herts Healthy Homes Partnership Programme, with Hertfordshire County Council

HHH

Hertfordshire County Council/ Herts Healthy Homes project

Red Potato were selected by Hertfordshire County Council to:

  1. build engagement and involvement from a diverse range of partner organisations, including voluntary sector organisations, district and borough Councils
  2. ensure partnership outcomes were recorded and communicated
  3. work with Herts Healthy Homes partners to create and embed referral processes

Hertfordshire County Council said:

“Red Potato were really efficient and happy to talk to other key providers. We’d have no hesitation in recommending Red Potato for project support. They deliver exactly what they promise.”

 

Herts Healthy Homes & Red Potato
Herts Healthy Homes – Red Potato provided project support for this Hertfordshire County Council partnership project

 

Posted on

“If it is too good to be true…it probably is” International Trade Enquiries 101

On Christmas Eve, as England experienced unseasonal heavy rain and high winds, Red Potato received an enquiry from Pakistan to supply us with several containers of white potatoes.  The variety of potato? Santa.  Yep, you can’t make it up, someone on Christmas Eve, wanted to sell us white Santa potatoes!

It may not have been a scam, but it made us laugh all the same.

The Red Potato company brand is about being flexible, versatile and down to earth – much like the humble potato.  We also have a company compost heap which is used to grow Red Spuds, but there the similarity ends.   The core business for Red Potato is about working in partnership with organisations who want better insight and stronger economic engagement with local communities.   By working together we attract investment to an area, help new entrepreneurs learn from seasoned entrepreneurs, create snappy animated films to demonstrate project outcomes and help public sector organisations engage with local business communities.

Red Potato has recently been accepted onto the UKTI East “Passport to Export” (P2E) programme.  What has been very helpful is the opportunity to talk to the local International Trade Advisor at UKTI East.   We’ve discussed things such potential liability from unsolicited enquires for Santa spuds on Christmas Eve, what practical steps to take about making your website attractive to overseas buyers and the merits of different routes to market.  And we’ve not even been on the P2E workshop yet!

All this means is that hopefully before the next crop of Santa spuds have been harvested Red Potato will be trading successfully abroad.

Posted on

How Local Strategic Partnerships can help stimulate (very) local economic change

Much of the economic debate is about the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS).  LEPs have the critical mass and potential access to resources to drive change and attract major investment to an area.  So what role if any do the Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP) have?  At a time of pressure on public sector finances, some local authorities are wondering what contribution the LSP makes to local wellbeing.   Perhaps one answer is for LSPs to remain hyper local and focus on economic change for individuals and neighbourhoods.    What follows is a brief description of how one LSP has addressed this challenge.

The Welwyn Hatfield Alliance (LSP) is located centrally in Hertfordshire, England.  The Borough includes the new towns of Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City aswell as several large villages, overall the population was estimated to be 114,400 in mid 2010

The Council has had to reduce its overall budget, at a time when demand for some services has increased due to the effects of the economic recession.  The focus of the Council is to provide strong community leadership.   This includes helping local people to compete for local jobs and supporting local business.

Action

Red Potato worked with partners from the Welwyn Hatfield Alliance (Local Strategic Partnership) to bring a new perspective on youth unemployment and entrepreneurship.   The aim was to replace, “silo” based economic development with a business driven campaign to improve the local economy and entrepreneurship.

Result

This is what we have done together:

  1. Set up a work placement scheme in which those on work placement are supported by an accredited mentoring programme
  2. Attracted FTSE100 CEOs to discuss with students their vision for business
  3. Local schools and college students have competed to raise the most money from a business idea for local charities
  4. Engaged local small and medium sized employers in apprenticeship schemes
  5. Attracted new employers to be involved in local Jobs Fairs

[polldaddy poll=6704687]

Posted on

So how’s the business going?

If you are a new business owner how do you answer this question?   Most people who ask the question “How is business going for you?”  are genuinely interested in what you’re doing and want to see you do well.   There maybe a couple of people who are looking to you to fail so that they can say “I knew it would never work, I always said she/he couldn’t hack it and the business plan wasn’t feasible” – but let’s assume most people want to see you do well.  

Whether you are an employee of a long established company or in the midst of starting up a business, it is important to be honest but positive.  

Honest:  People can usually see through bull; if you say business is great and it isn’t then your body language and demeanor will eventually give you away!

Positive: People want to see you do well and if you don’t believe in the business no else will either!   So create your own confidence, build a buzz about your business and focus on the value you can deliver to your customers and stakeholders!

Here at Red Potato we have recently been helping a group of UK based unemployed executives explore future options.   Unemployment is a dreadful option and the group meeting each week undoubtedly provides an important support mechanism for the participants.   But unemployment can also be an important spur to action – the difficult bit is enabling the individual concerned to make an honest assessment of their position and then to ensure they are in a position to take positive action to address that position.     Red Potato works in partnership with local agencies to provide mentoring, work experience and community engagement services.  We also measure the “difference” the projects we deliver make to local people.   Stay positive everyone!