“Attract new investment to Norfolk and support all businesses to grow”
We believe that thriving business and industrial sectors are key drivers of prosperity, and that the role of the council is to take the lead on stimulating a local economy that works for everyone:
- Creating jobs
- Encouraging direct investment
- Increasing the money it receives from business taxes in order to fund services
- Leading on economic strategy
- Providing training to help businesses scale and grow
- Identifying and encouraging opportunities for innovation, environmental improvement, and diversification, and
- Support for young people in the economic recovery.
A new ambition amongst Norfolk’s political leaders is urgently needed in order to do this. It is clear from those areas in the UK and internationally that are delivering real economic growth that the lead local authority is showing leadership through a compelling overarching vision, ambitious growth plans, active, hands-on engagement, and partnership – not just signposting to services or facilitating Government programmes.
We believe that Norfolk is full of untapped potential and that it is the council's job to work with the LEP and others to bring about a bold 21st century economic strategy that brings prosperity to all.
Our city is a prosperous, culturally rich centre with nationally recognised arts, education and cultural institutions, an award-winning independent retail sector, and a global destination for creative writing. It has specialist industry in agricultural science that is unparalleled in the UK.
However in rural areas we face acute challenges caused by rapidly changing population, lack of connectivity, rural poverty, and an exodus of young people.
Overall, Norfolk’s core industries face significant change in the coming years with Brexit and the Climate Emergency two of the main drivers that could cause Norfolk to sink or swim. Businesses need certainty in order to thrive, and in an era of change, it is Norfolk County Council’s job to provide direction.
If elected, we will establish industrial zones for technology-enabled agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and environmental tech – to complement the existing Food Hub – in order to stimulate and coordinate sustainable, green growth.
Training and Development
When cash is low, the difference between a business’ success and failure could come from just a few more £ or % profit. Yet Norfolk lacks some of the management training and coaching facilities to train small and owner-operated businesses in the knowledge needed to achieve this.
In some of our most promising sectors there are insufficient networks and specialist associations to allow business owners to learn from each other, and even a lack of basic training and qualification opportunities in key vocational sectors like hospitality & social care.
Meanwhile many of Norfolk’s successes struggle to recruit the management skills they need locally.
In many sectors, increased performance benefits all the businesses in the sector – making it easier to recruit staff, attract customers, and build a lasting reputation for excellence.
If elected, we will provide a tailored management training programme to our key sectors (tourism, medical, research, elderly care, and arts & culture) to help improve growth, performance, resilience, and productivity;
Specifically for SMEs, we will focus on efficiencies that can help put 5 percentage points onto their net profit; and
For established businesses, we will launch a prestigious growth programme for those looking to take the next step along the path of 5x growth, Merger & Acquisition, or stock market flotation.
In addition, our care sector is often overlooked as an example of national excellence. It is sometimes seen to be strange to talk about care as an ‘industry’ but we believe we should be proud of our care industry as a leading growth sector, and promote training, best practice and show-casing across the county and beyond.
Green Growth and Green Jobs
The climate emergency is an enormous opportunity that could bring prosperity to many families across Norfolk.
Handled responsibly, it doesn’t need most people to make significant lifestyle sacrifices, and could instead create a new wave of sustainable manufacturing, product development and service industries.
Whether responding to the policy agenda contained in this document, diversifying an existing business to make it greener and more attractive to modern ecologically-conscious customers, or developing brand new products and solutions to solve environmental problems, we believe the conditions are right for Norfolk to experience a new wave of economic development.
This requires focused leadership – both in terms of researching and prioritising opportunities, and presenting Norfolk to the world.
If elected, we will create a fund to encourage new local sustainable business;
Undertake a research project to identify and manage opportunities for a low-carbon Norfolk economy; and
Launch a charter mark for sustainability in tourism businesses.
The environmental cost of infrastructure projects is just as important as the financial cost. If elected, we will bring in specific measures to go beyond mandatory environmental impact assessments, and ensure every project decision taken by the council is made in respect of a balanced budget for environmental impact, including our ambitious target to reduce the county’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2030.
Aside from the environmental benefits, our commitment to public transport investment is a critical infrastructure asset for our economy, as it allows a wider group of people to access employment and bring their skills to businesses across our county without relying on private car ownership.
Specifically to encourage businesses to draw on all the rich diversity of skills and aptitudes that the people of Norfolk have, if elected we will create a people credit system that gives more 'points' to any business applicants for funding or support if they include new apprenticeships and/or employment opportunities for adults with a learning disability, as well as other groups.
The 2020 lockdown has shown us how vital modern digital infrastructure is – arguably more so than roads. Yet too many corners of Norfolk are ‘not spots’ for mobile phone signal, and homes and businesses alike will soon find that the data speeds they need are simply not available through the local improvements that have come about through the County Council giving money solely to BT Openreach to improve their copper-cable broadband.
If elected, we will work with a full range of partners including alt-net service providers, third party infrastructure owners and developers to achieve 100% superfast fibre coverage across Norfolk; and
Seek to make Norfolk the national leader in rural mobile phone connectivity by partnering with the Shared Rural Network collaboration between network operators to deliver 100% indoor mobile phone connectivity across Norfolk.