Welcome from Warwickshire County Council joint managing director Monica Fogarty
Hello and welcome to the May edition of Warwickshire Means Business.
With Brexit in the pipeline, the business world has been dealing with a backdrop of uncertainty for almost a year - and now we have a snap General Election to throw into the mix. These are interesting times, to say the least, but it is pleasing to hear that there is cautious optimism among our business community, as detailed in the Quarterly Economic Survey for the first quarter of 2017.
It is an encouraging picture and for a more detailed analysis of Labour Market trends within Warwickshire, please also see our Labour Market Bulletin, compiled by Warwickshire County Council economist Sam van de Scootbrugge.
Whatever fluctuations might impact the national and international economy, one thing can be relied on - our support for our county's business community remains steadfast. And in this edition of Warwickshire Means Business you can read about a number of funding schemes and initiatives now available.
A new £2 million RDPE grant fund is now on stream with Expressions of Interest welcome until January 2018. Similar grants in the past have been a springboard to great success for small and micro-businesses and we are keen to help many more firms succeed and grow.
Businesses often tell us that the skills gap is a major barrier to growth for them. So we have launched the Skills Challenge whereby grants of £20,000 to £40,000 are available to businesses that deliver a project to address a skills shortage or gap in our county.
Two other initiatives of mutual benefit to the business world its community of are now up and running: Active Inclusion and Progress. Please do have a read and consider whether you could get involved.
Meanwhile, our Inward Investment officers are constantly busy selling the county as a business base. It helps a great deal that Warwickshire has a fantastic reputation, as illustrated by so many global companies, big and small, choosing to settle here.
These are times of flux but in Warwickshire we are so lucky to have a highly-skilled, innovative and hugely-respected business community which is held in the highest regard nationally and internationally. Evidence of this came when the Department for International Trade invited digital creative sector leaders from across the world to the UK. The three regions chosen by the DIT to host the delegates were London, Manchester... and Warwickshire! Warwickshire County Council was proud to host the delegation and the day was a great success and will hopefully lead to business around the world.