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keyfact Horsham District

The District is 85% rural.

Business body set up to find ways of growing the West Sussex economy

Businesses across West Sussex are being invited to give their views on a range of economic issues with the launch this week (week commencing 16 September) of an independent body to look at how best to boost local businesses.

The West Sussex Independent Economic Commission will examine how to overcome the challenges and barriers to growth in West Sussex and who should be overcoming these.

To aid its task, it is putting out a call for evidence containing key questions aimed at the local business community and other key stakeholders, though everyone can have their say.

Supported by the national economic development consultancy Shared Intelligence, the Commission is led by a panel of five business figures from across the region. 

Commission members are independent of local and national government and will:

  • assess the potential for economic growth in West Sussex, including the most significant challenges, barriers and opportunities currently faced;
  • review the current mechanisms that exist to secure and support economic growth in the county and make recommendations on action the County Council and its partners could take to secure a higher long-term growth rate;
  • look at how to set up a mechanism for closer engagement with business that should ensure a clearer understanding of the perspectives of business on how to promote economic growth; and
  • look at the role of West Sussex’s Area Partnerships and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The evidence will be discussed during six workshop sessions hosted by the Commission during late October and early November, which will lead to a report and recommendations that will be presented to the County Council in January next year.

Council leader, Louise Goldsmith, who commissioned the study, said: “The economy is our key priority. To help to secure growth, the County Council needs to ensure that the views of business views are properly understood and listened to.

“We know there is a lot we can do to help businesses, but we need to ensure this help is targeted. 

“I therefore welcome the work of the Commission on behalf of the business community and its partners and will study its final report with interest.”

Commission chairman, Professor John Craven, former Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, said: “I look forward to working with my fellow panel members who have a deep understanding of business and how it operates and who have views on what can be done to help the West Sussex economy.

"We also look forward to hearing from a wide range of participants and interested parties about what could be improved within the West Sussex economy."

Further information on how to participate can be obtained via West Sussex County Council’s website by typing in West Sussex Independent Economic Commission in the search bar, via Shared Intelligence’s website on www.wsiec.org/ or follow the Commission’s work on Twitter via @wseconomy and #wseconomy.

The deadline for submitting evidence is 8 November 2013.

The Area Partnerships are the Gatwick Diamond, Rural West Sussex and Coastal West Sussex.

The Commission members are:

  • Professor John Craven CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth (retired Summer 2013)
  • Marion Wilcock, Consultant, DMH Stallard LLP
  • Trevor Williams, Thales UK and Chair of Manor Royal BID.(MRBD Ltd)
  • Martin Fausset, Managing Director, Ricardo UK Ltd
  • Roger Paterson, Member of Horsham District Council, Cabinet Member for Local Economy, Chair of West Sussex Rural Partnership.

Commission members are available for interview. 


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