Coventry and Warwickshire’s rich history in R&D and education will play a key role in helping to stimulate the area’s economy post-Coronavirus.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) is working with the West Midlands Combined Authority, the CWLEP Growth Hub, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, local authorities, the University of Warwick, Coventry University and the Further Education sector including Coventry College, WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), Hereward College, Stratford-upon-Avon College and North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College to strengthen future resilience.
Coventry and Warwickshire is one of the leading regions for issuing Small Business Rate Relief grants and has been named as an example of best practice by the FSB to ensure businesses are receiving the money they need during lockdown to survive.
Businesses and the two universities throughout the area have reinforced the region’s reputation for reinvention by answering the Government’s call to adapt their practices and manufacturing plants to produce Personal Protective Equipment to help frontline NHS workers.
Sarah Windrum, a board director at the CWLEP and chair of its digital and creative business group, said its links with business groups and local authorities means it is in a great position to help facilitate the recovery for companies and organisations.
“Coventry and Warwickshire’s business community is showing its resilience in these extremely challenging times but there needs to be a fundamental re-set of economic strategy to revive businesses and the local economy,” she said.
“Research and Development is vital to the recovery of our economy which is an area where we have historically been strong and have a proven track record which is highlighted by the creation of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre which is due to open near Coventry this year.
“Education also has a key role and we must continue to promote and support the effective collaboration across our universities and Further Education colleges and their engagement with our business community but especially the small businesses hardest hit by Covid-19.
“The West Midlands Regional Industrial Strategy promotes our area as key for developing enabling technologies across all sectors and significant investments are planned in technology infrastructure.
“5G is new game-changing technology but we have seen with the fact that so many of us are working from home that it is crucial we invest in all high-speed connectivity to provide enhanced digital services and platforms for businesses, residents and students.”
Sarah, who is CEO of the Leamington-based technology group The Emerald Group, added that Coventry and Warwickshire has a robust economy but it has been significantly damaged by Covid-19 particularly in tourism which is Warwickshire’s life-blood.
She added: “Thirty-nine businesses in the creative industries who took part in a survey had lost £500,000 in business in just one week and the retail, leisure and hospitality industry has effectively been closed down by the lockdown.
“That is why it is great the CWLEP is helping the teams behind new grassroots initiatives which are using technology to accelerate their projects.
“LoveLeamington.com is offering e-commerce signposting for retailers and food outlets and there are new resident-led Facebook groups set-up for independents to promote their delivery services. We have built a regional showcase with interactive content thanks to inward investment teams at Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council and local digital production studio Fish in a Bottle, and City of Culture in Coventry is commissioning musicians and visual artists to create a ‘digital album’ to support the creative freelance community.
“We must all work together more than ever before to create a stronger working alliance to lay the foundations for our future economy.”
Caption: Sarah Windrum, CWLEP board director