MPs from across the region have added their support to the South East Business Growth Hub and Creative Prospectus at a joint launch event hosted by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) and sponsored by Jackie Doyle-Price MP at the House of Commons.
The event on Monday afternoon (March 14) saw the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, launch the SE LEP Creative Prospectus.
The prospectus has been drawn up by business leaders from the creative sector, SE LEP and local authorities from across the region.
It has established the scope and scale of the creative economy in the LEP area, promotes the local benefits of a thriving creative economy and identifies actions that will help the sector realise its growth potential.
Speaking at the launch event, Mr Whittingdale said: "The creative industries are an extraordinary success story for this country, excelling in every area from video games to film and generating more than Â£84 billion for our economy.
"It’s great to see SE LEP focusing on the creative sector, recognising the important part it can play in the region’s growth."
His view was supported by Andrea Stark,Chief Executive of High House Production Park, Thurrock, which, along with the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Folkestone Creative Foundation, is a prime example of creative clusters leading regeneration in the region.
Andrea said: "With 96.4% of the sector made up of freelance and microbusinesses, it makes sense for the SE LEP area to focus on becoming the most freelance friendly place in the country."
Jackie Doyle Price MP celebrated the successful development of the creative sector in Thurrock in particular and noted plans to create a Thames Gateway Production Corridor to ensure the growth needs of the sector, particularly workspace, are designed into planning and development.
The event also saw the launch of the South East Growth Hub, a support service that helps businesses navigate their way through the complexity of growth initiatives and business support services available locally and nationally.
The South East hub works on the same federated model as the LEP with individual hubs for East Sussex, Kent and Medway, and Essex, Thurrock and Southend, to ensure local delivery for local businesses.
"The Growth Hub and the Creative Prospectus are two crucially important initiatives for business in the South East," said Graham Peters, Vice Chair of the SE LEP.
"With so much support available in terms of advice and financial incentives, it can be difficult for businesses to be sure they have all the information they need to make the right decisions to help them grow.
"Growth Hubs emphasise securing the right support at the time the business needs it – whether it is provided by the public sector, the private sector, by national agencies or by local partners."
The local growth hubs mean that with one call, or one email, they can get the information they need to take advantage of the various schemes out there to help them.
Turning to the Creative Prospectus, Graham added: "The publication demonstrates a sense of collective ambition and it sets the scene for new initiatives to unlock the massive growth potential of the creative economy in the South East
"There is strong support for both of these initiatives across SE LEP. They provide a foundation that will enable the South East to become a globally significant location for business and help to sustain the long-term success of the UK’s creative economy."
The launch event was attended by local MPs including Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden), Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye), Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham), Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood) and Nusrat Ghani (Wealden)
Other attendees included senior Whitehall officials, business support partners and delivery agents local businesses and supporters and partners from across the creative sector, including businesses and voluntary organisations.
To view the video which demonstrates the impact of the Growth Hub with businesses locally visit www.southeastlep.com or to find details of your local Growth Hub, visit www.southeastbusiness.org.uk.
The Creative Prospectus can be found at http://www.southeastlep.com/images/uploads/resources/SE_Prospectus_Low_Res_%281%29.pdf