Consultation commences on draft Economic Development Strategy
The draft EDS, which was approved by District Executive earlier this month, sets out the vision, key outcomes, priority themes and action plan to deliver economic development over the next ten years in South Somerset between 2019-28.
The purpose of the strategy is to:
- Provide a consistent vision with clear objectives and priorities for our District's economy through the whole Council approach;
- Set out how the priorities will be translated into a framework for change together with the actions needed;
- Identify mechanisms for delivery, including SSDC's own role and responsibilities alongside the responsibilities of public partners and the business community;
- Establish how we will measure and evaluate outcomes.
Benefits of having a clear defined EDS include having a set and clear direction of economic work, with a framework to work within which will increase South Somerset's chances of obtaining funding from Central Government and regional bodies such as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, who recently helped to part-fund the extension of the Yeovil Innovation Centre.
The EDS also highlights priorities for economic development and growth established by Elected Members through the District Council's four Area Committees. The priorities set out by Members are to:
- have active, positive partnerships with key businesses to support a resilient business landscape;
- encourage small and artisan businesses;
- bring forward suitable land for small business units;
- promote and develop tourism;
- support local food and drink producers;
- provide employment land and business units of appropriate sizes readily available for uptake by businesses and residents;
- attract tourists and increase spend in and visits to the District; and
- support businesses across all sectors.
The consultation on the draft EDS starts today and closes on Friday 25 January 2019.
The Council are asking businesses, stakeholders and the public for their input on the draft EDS, which will help to tailor and refine the strategy so that it takes in all relevant views and is fit to take the District Council forward economically over the next ten years.
Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, portfolio holder for Economic Development at South Somerset District Council, said: "We need to ensure that we are ready for opportunities that may come up and are prepared to tackle threats to our economy. The Economic Development Strategy will aid all of this and guide the District Council's work for the next few years and give the flexibility to react to our changing world.
"The consultation of draft strategy gives businesses, the public and other stakeholders the opportunity to voice their opinion on the points that we have raised, from the vision that we have set, to the framework for change that we have identified. It's important that you have your say to help South Somerset thrive economically into the future."
What is South Somerset District Council's Economic Vision?
Our vision for the period to 2028 is built on the aims of our Council Plan; our work with businesses, public partners and wider stakeholders; the evidence and context of the District's economic performance.
Why invest in South Somerset?
- strong business growth and good survival rates
- a resilient local economy with low unemployment levels, high levels of economic activity and growing levels of skills and training inclusion
- several of the South-west region's most important high-tech aerospace businesses with many other advanced engineering and manufacturing companies
- a planned aerospace innovation and collaboration hub in Yeovil as part of the iAero initiative, to further focus economic growth in this globally significant sector
- allocated employment sites and existing commercial floor space available to suit the needs of a wide range of businesses
- distinctive and diverse Market Towns, with ongoing rejuvenation and regeneration programmes in place
- a high quality of life in our towns, villages and rural areas
- a range of agricultural and rural diversification opportunities
- good access to the West Country's strategic road and rail links and committed future improvements
- a programme that will drive superfast broadband roll-out across our District, particularly focusing on the provision for businesses and improving coverage in more rural areas.
What are the golden opportunities in South Somerset?
- Our District is characterised by stable economic credentials offering potential for high levels of economic participation, low unemployment and will continue to support the highest number of jobs in Somerset. The strong concentration of key sectors in our District (e.g. aerospace and advanced engineering and manufacturing) supported by initiatives such as iAero, offers the potential for further diversification, innovation, collaboration and economic growth with better promotion of our national and global business reputation and competitiveness
- We have a key strength in the food and drink sector which links our agriculture and production industries. This offers strong local and international growth potential with expanding opportunities for existing and new businesses
- Our major employers support a wide ranging local supply network with scope to strengthen and grow their supply chain links
- Our existing schools, further education and skills training providers have well established, positive relationships with many employers and a clear appetite to expand and deepen these links. We place a clear emphasis on the importance of vocational/technical skills development, higher level education and career-long learning
- The tourism sector in South Somerset is long established as part of the wider South-west region's offer. We have a range of unique, nationally and internationally recognised attractions. Our District's visitor accommodation offer, our attractive rural environment and built heritage combine to offer real potential for further growth and value in the visitor economy
- Our more rural areas represent significant economic and environmental assets. They hold great opportunities for the diversification of our economic base, promotion of our visitor economy and support for rejuvenation of our Market Towns and villages
- We are home to RNAS Yeovilton, one of the largest military bases in the South-west. It is a focus for significant aero-sector investment, employment and supply chain expenditure at the local level
- Committed major infrastructure projects in our District and the wider area, including the A303 and A358 road network and London-Exeter rail improvements, will further enhance strategic access and connectivity and provide major opportunities for inward investment
- The potential of the digital economy for our District is significant. This is especially so for the rural areas where it will help to support business diversification, improve access to customers and markets and will enhance productivity.