Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (2 July) welcomed new business leaders who have signed up to work with him to shape the region’s priorities, and thanked those who are standing down.
The Tees Valley’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) supports the Mayor and Combined Authority by engaging with the wider business community and other partners to create growth, investment and jobs in the area, ensuring the private sector has a strong voice in the region’s decision-making.
Following a recruitment drive, which was temporarily paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, seven new business leaders have come on board, replacing those whose terms are up.
This move now means that the overall LEP membership is more diverse, inclusive and equally gender split than ever. Including Local Authority and education sector representatives, it is now made up of ten women and nine men, meeting the targets of a 2018 LEP review.
Current member Siobhan McArdle, Director of The Strategy House, will take over from former Sabic chairman Paul Booth CBE as LEP Chair. Jen Vanderhoven (National Horizons Centre, Teesside University); Andrew Fulton (ICL Boulby); Steph Carter-Smith (CityFibre); Stephen Gill (Cummins); Matthew Ord (LV Shipping & Transport); Joanna Wake (Baltic Training) and Yasmin Khan (HALO Project) make up the new intake.
The Tees Valley LEP is one of 38 across the UK, a partnership between the public and private sectors that helps decide local economic priorities and promote growth, and is one of 13 to have a female chair.
Mayor Houchen said: “Our LEP has previously been singled out as a ‘fantastic example of public-private sector partnership’, and this is without doubt thanks to the hard work, dedication and insight of our outgoing members who have helped shape everything that we do.
“I’d like to give my sincere thanks to each and every one of the members who we’re now saying goodbye to, although I’m certain that they’ll continue to play a hugely important part in the future of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to encourage even more female business leaders to come on board to more accurately reflect the wealth of talent from across the region and I’m sure our new members will take the LEP onto even bigger and better things.
“The business community’s voice is essential if we are to successfully create good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people and drive economic growth, and thanks to the strong backgrounds of all of our new faces it’s safe to say the LEP’s in great hands.”
Outgoing LEP Chair, Paul Booth CBE, said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been able to use my decades of experience working in the chemicals industry to play a part in helping to guide the LEP and provide insight to the Combined Authority.
“Of course, many people have worked very hard together to make this LEP a success, not least the seven other colleagues also leaving their posts, but there’s still more to do. This new membership shows the LEP has a fantastic future and I’ll continue to do all I can to help drive forward our area’s regeneration.”
New LEP Chair Siobhan McArdle said: “I’ve worked with Paul Booth for the past four years and I’m delighted to be picking up the baton to drive further growth and help the Tees Valley succeed.
“I’m committed to supporting the Mayor and Combined Authority so we can capitalise on the fantastic opportunities emerging across the Tees Valley while also making sure the voice of business is heard and actioned. From Teesworks and the Freeport to Teesside Airport and our wider initiatives, there’s lots to be very excited about.
“Of course, one of the most pressing and challenging issues is also COVID-19 recovery across all sectors and making sure our businesses have access to all the support and help they need and which is available. I hope I can offer a fresh perspective and look forward to working with all the LEP members, new and old, to create and deliver real positive change.”
Also at today’s Combined Authority Cabinet, a refresh to the ten-year Tees Valley Investment Plan was agreed, including an extra £5million funding allocation to help SMEs grow and recover in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. An £11.7million investment to improve rail and road links to Teesworks was also signed off, as well as approving funding awards from the £31million Adult Education Budget.