Node Enterprise Centre

Support Made in Devon and give economy boost it needs now - John Hart

North Devon Gazette

It seems that most of the candidates to become our new Prime Minister are making it clear their top priorities are to rebuild the economy and get soaring inflation under control.

They will have far more tools at their disposal than we at Devon County Council have.

However the aim mirrors what we’ve been trying to do. It has been our clear intention following the pandemic to drive the economic recovery in Devon and ensure the climate is right for businesses to prosper and provide well-paid jobs.

I’ve written here before about our Team Devon devolution bid which focuses on providing decent homes for local people and key workers, top quality skills and training for our young people and improved infrastucture.

That’s for the medium and longer term but in the past few weeks we have had a number of developments across the county that are designed to help get the economy going and boost the prosperity we all require, to pay for the services we all need.

We’ve launched a scheme called Made in Devon which enables businesses to advertise that they are a trustworthy operation supplying Devon-sourced products whenever possible and who’ve been vetted by trading standards.

The objective is to encourage consumers to keep buying quality local products and services, to bring long-term, sustainable prosperity to the region and to help in the economic recovery.

A recent consumer survey revealed that 88 per cent of local people try to buy Devon-sourced goods whenever possible and, as my Cabinet colleague Rufus Gilbert said at the County Show, that presents a huge opportunity for local businesses.

We hope Made in Devon will encourage sales and consumption of the incredible range of quality products and services we have in Devon, support local businesses and establish Devon as a source of world class local products and services.

And I’m delighted to say the number of businesses signed up has doubled since February.

That’s a county-wide scheme but we’re also working locally. In North Devon we are expanding the Node enterprise centre at Roundswell.

We’ve worked with a number of partners on this and the extension will provide more office space for small and medium businesses, start-ups, freelances and local workers across Torridge and North Devon. Already more than 120 people are working there and that number far exceeds our original assessment.

At the other end of the county – but bringing potential benefits for the whole South West – we’ve had Government approval for the outline business case for the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport. The Government’s also approved our proposed tax site at Sherford in the South Hams as well as one in Plymouth.

A Freeport offers lower taxes and customs, favourable tariffs, VAT and duties for companies locating there. These approvals mark a major milestone for the Freeport and should unlock of millions of pounds worth of funding for the region. It’s a real opportunity to generate new jobs for local people, attract investment and stimulate growth in green technologies to help our economy make a strong  recovery.

I would urge any businesses that want to find out more about the opportunities afforded by the Freeport to contact the  team at FreeportDevelopmentTeam@plymouth.gov.uk

Lastly we’ve worked with the Local Enterprise Partnership, our MPs and other councils and LEPs across the South West peninsula to promote the region as a powerhouse of clean, Green growth. And just last week the partnership received £1.5 million from the Government to take those plans forward.

So, even in these uncertain times, we are working very hard to improve life for all.

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