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Building on a Decade of Partnership

9 November 2010


SEEDA’s results form the basis for growing the South East economy

Rob Douglas CBE, Chairman of SEEDA welcomed business leaders, local authority representatives and partners to SEEDA’s Annual Open Public Meeting on 4th November 2010.

Commenting on ‘an extraordinary rollercoaster of a year’, Rob Douglas committed SEEDA to an effective transition of programmes to the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and other successor organisations. He said:

“The future will look very different and we are committed to ensure that we work with successor bodies, as they are identified, to make available our knowledge and expertise. Our objective has always been to help ensure the economic success of the South East and our concern now is that momentum is not lost as the changes take place. As one of my predecessors said, the South East is the locomotive of the UK economy, which is the largest net contributor by some way to the Exchequer. None of us want to see that locomotive derailed.”

Reporting on performance in the last financial year, before looking forward to the challenges posed by SEEDA’s closure in 2012, Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, outlined the foundations SEEDA has laid for successors to build on to support the South East economy, saying:

“Our objective has always been to support the economic success of the South East and it is key that that momentum is not lost in the transition to the new economic landscape. We are all committed to the best possible handover of people, programmes and assets to those tasked with future support for economic development nationally, sub-regionally and locally.

“In 2009/10 the challenging economic conditions meant that our primary task was supporting businesses through the recession. We re-focused our work on international trade and inward investment; innovation through collaborations to commercialise new ideas, and business growth.

“SEEDA exceeded 14 out of our 16 targets, some very substantially:

  • Over 10,000 jobs were created or safeguarded;
  • 65 inward investment successes across every part of the South East region created or supported nearly 7,000 of these jobs;
  • Some 52,200 businesses were supported to improve performance;
  • Over 5,700 new businesses were supported and grew;
  • Nearly 16,000 people were assisted to improve their skills and over 15,000 helped to gain employment.”

Reporting on achievements since 1999, Pam Alexander noted that over 11 years SEEDA:

  • helped to create or safeguard over 76,000 jobs;
  • generated some 38,000 jobs through inward investment
  • helped over 300,000 businesses to improve their performance – equal to 40% of businesses in the South East; and
  • remediated and developed over 900 ha of brownfield land, resulting in long-term, transformational economic and social regeneration in places such as Chatham Maritime and Hastings.

The meeting examined challenges and opportunities faced by businesses present and considered how these could be supported by Local Enterprise Partnerships.

George Batho, HR Director of Linde, addressed the difficulties facing his company during the recession and said:

"The work SEEDA did to support us when we had to announce 350 redundancies in 2009 and implement these redundancies in 2010, enabled us to maintain the high productivity levels at our Basingstoke factory and to think creatively about how best to use the space vacated, as well as helping many of the employees we had to release to find new skills and new jobs."

Cllr Paul Carter Chairman of South East England Councils (SEEC) said: "Councils welcome our new role in working with businesses of all sizes to deliver economic growth through Local Enterprise Partnerships. During the transition to LEPs we hope to continue a positive partnership with SEEDA, who have pledged to help us learn from the journey of the past 10 years."

SEEDA’s Annual Open Public Meeting was held at the Mandolay Hotel in Guildford and attended by a mix of local businesses and delivery partners.

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