New Food Enterprise Zone at Hemswell wins more government funding

Ruth Carver, who is director of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Ruth Carver, who is director of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Job prospects in the Gainsborough area have been given a boost by more funding for a Food Enterprize Zone (FEZ) at Hemswell Cliff.

Greater Lincolnshire has been chosen by the government as one of the first four Manufacturing Zones for the East Midlands.

And as a result, £155,000 will be released to further support the creation of three FEZs across the county, including the one at Hemswell.

The money will go towards tackling problems identified by businesses using the sites. At Hemswell, a study will be carried out into improving operations, maintenance and planning through the use of smart-grid technology.

The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured the funding as part of a £500,000 package to support economic growth and investment in the East Midlands.

The whole idea behind the Manufacturing Zones and the Food Enterprise Zones is to make the planning process simpler for businesses wanting to expand, removing restrictions.

Ruth Carver, director of the LEP, said: “This is welcome news for Greater Lincolnshire, and our multi-billion pound food industry. It will allow us to build on our local economic strengths.

“This new status and funding will accelerate the delivery of our three Food Enterprise Zones, as well the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme.

“Many businesses utilising the zones have found that limitations in infrastructure and transport are constraining their ability to grow.

“This much-needed funding will help us address these issues by undertaking studies into modernising infrastructure and the transport network.

“It is a small amount of funding, but by targeting it in this way, the outcomes will be significant.”

The other two Food Enterprise Zones are at Grimsby to focus on its fishing industry and at Holbeach, which is a hub for fresh prodce and food processing.

They represent one of a range of projects that the Greater Lincolnshire LEP won almost £30 million of funding for in 2017 in a bid to attract new business and jobs and boost the county’s agricultural and food industries.

The announcement about Manufacturing Zones, which are the first in the country, follows a grant of £2 million secured by the LEP specifically for the Hemswell FEZ.

The food sector in Greater Lincolnshire is valued at £3.5 billion, with a particular strength in pre-prepared food. There are 75 large UK or international companies in the area, as well as 4,000 small-to-medium-sized businesses.

The government’s communities secretary, James Brokenshire, announced Manufacturing Zone status for the county. The other three will be at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire to focus on food and drink, at the University of Leicester to support a proposed space park and at Chesterfield and Bolsover in Derbyshire to benefit from investment associated with the new HS2 rail project.

Mr Brokenshire said the zones would aim to reduce planning restrictions to allow land to be used more productively and provide certainty for business investment.

He added: “Manufacturing, innovation and trade are at the heart of the East Midlands economy, so it is the perfect place for the UK’s first Manufacturing Zones.

“This is another example of how the government is delivering for the Midlands with our modern industrial strategy, backing local businesses and building on local strengths.”

The Greater Lincolnshire LEP was set up in 2010 and works with businesses, the government and local councils to develop and grow the area’s diverse economy.

It has invested £304 million in economic growth schemes since 2014, and more than 100 businesses are now involved in its strategies.

THE decision to create the country’s first Manufacturing Zones in the East Midlands, including one for Greater Lincolnshire, was warmly welcomed by business leaders.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber, said: “For some time now, we have been calling on the government to do more to celebrate the contribution this region makes to the national economy. The East Midlands is the spine of manufacturing in the UK. We make more here than anywhere else in the country does.

“For too long, we have achieved success despite an apparent lack of recognition from the government. For example, the region receives only 60 per cent per capita investment in infrastructure compared to the rest of the country. Therefore, we are delighted to acknowledge this £500,000 investment in economic growth and new jobs.”