Infrastructure is our number one priority
IMPROVING infrastructure has been highlighted as the number one priority in a blueprint for economic growth in Lincolnshire.
It tops the list of five key themes outlined in the Plan for Greater Lincolnshire, which has been put together by the area's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Ursula Lidbetter, chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, told delegates at a business summit in Market Rasen that although "we are not going to be building dual carriageways across Lincolnshire" the physical infrastructure of the county could be improved.
She said that access to utilities such as phone lines, water and electricity had been a constant problem for businesses, and added that securing superfast broadband would be key to the county's economic success.
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"We have been promised £14.3 million to get our broadband sorted out and we need businesses to sign up to ensure that we as an area get prioritised", she said.
Ms Lidbetter added that local companies could bid for a share of £9-million in loans to help unlock stalled sites through the LEP's Invest To Grow Scheme. Other key priorities outlined in the plan were creating the right conditions for business growth, supporting rural enterprise and the retail sector.
Ms Lidbetter said the LEP was trying to create a "business friendly culture" by improving the planning process, and to push for rural enterprise in the face of a perceived government bias towards big cities."
Fellow LEP board member Chris Baron also stressed that the LEP was focusing on the needs of small and medium-sized companies just as much as those of large firms.
He said: "We are not just focusing on large businesses. We are very aware of what SMEs are all about, and if we have a strong infrastructure then that will help all businesses in the area."
The fifth key priority is communication and engagement.
Ms Lidbetter stressed the importance of businesses sharing their views.
She said: "We think we've got the right plan. We think we are on the right track, but we want to hear from you. It will be an ongoing dialogue and the plan will constantly evolve. We can't have a plan that stays still because the needs of business do not stay still."