Sir Peter Rigby, one of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs, could soon become chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Sir Peter, whose Specialist Computer Holdings is the largest privately-owned IT company in Europe, attracted a unanimous vote to become chair of the LEP at its board meeting held in Rugby
But Sir Peter, whose companies own Coventry Airport and two hotels in the area, is not set to formally accept the post for two weeks until he sees how his nomination is received by the business community.
His Gateway scheme, which will see the redevelopment of land around the airport and the possible creation of 14,000 jobs, is one of the main economic priorities for the LEP.
Martin Yardley, managing director of the LEP, said: “Sir Peter has been involved with the LEP since its very early days and sees it as a key economic driver for Coventry and Warwickshire.
“That is why he became involved. Since that time the Gateway has been launched which the LEP believes has great potential to boost the economy of the area and become a development of key strategic importance.
“Everyone around the LEP board table has a vested interest in Coventry and Warwickshire – that is why they are involved. If that was not the case then they would not be board members.
“Sir Peter wants to be totally certain – for the good of the reputation of the LEP – that everybody is fully comfortable with the situation.
“There is no question that the LEP has made great strides in the last 18 months and there was a clear view at board level that Sir Peter is the right man to take it forward for the good of the area.”
The nomination was made at the meeting at the Power Academy in Rugby, following a protocol set down by the board to appoint the next chair from the existing board.
Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby District Council and a LEP board member, said: "The LEP is a force for driving forward the economy, breaking down the barriers of growth and helping to create jobs.
"Sir Peter has great experience in all these areas and will bring a wealth of business talent to the role, as well as providing strong leadership.
"We are all focused on the aim of helping business and commerce in Coventry and Warwickshire, for the benefit of the whole area."
LEPs have to have a private sector chair and members are taken equally from the private and public sector.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “No-one could disagree that it is both important and critical for our Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership to have strong, experienced business leadership.
“The LEP needed to move swiftly to appoint an interim chair following the resignation of Denys Shortt. The board has done this and this is the right decision for our sub region.
“Now the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP can get back to the important business of creating conditions for growth and jobs.”
Bruce Undy, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire, also supported the decision to elect Sir Peter.
He said: “The FSB are fully in support of Sir Peter Rigby taking on the Chairmanship for the CW LEP. The CW LEP is at a crucial stage in its development and it needs a strong chair, and board, to ensure it remains one of the leading LEPs in England.”
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