Harlow Council strategy to attract new business investment, help create jobs and support existing local employers to expand

Business / Mon 20th Mar 2023 at 11:13am

A NEW approach to boosting economic growth by supporting local businesses to expand and a focus on making the case for more investment in order to position the town as a destination for employers to relocate is set to be adopted.

This Thursday’s (23 March 2023) meeting of the council’s cabinet will consider a draft town-wide Economic Development Strategy.

Underpinning this work is a focus on pursuing a stronger level of growth by making the local economy more competitive, deploying resources to enable a shift towards a more diverse range of sectors offering a wider range of job opportunities, and using partnerships to best position the town to secure funding for infrastructure to enable the objectives of the strategy to become a reality.

Five priorities aim to provide the right environment to enable a better level of economic growth over the course of the strategy up to 2028:

  • Attracting and accommodating jobs
  • Ensuring residents have access to employment opportunities
  • Supporting thriving and resilient small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • Community wealth building
  • Driving productivity and higher value

The strategy points out several key issues facing the local economy that need to be confronted in earnest: an educational attainment gap challenge; lack of employment land; a low wage base; and traffic congestion causing problems for businesses. Harlow is in a strong position to better leverage its existing infrastructure to strengthen economic resilience through the Enterprise Zone, including the Innovation Park. The council’s Modus Units at the Innovation Park currently house Medstrom, SMARTKAS and Xylem. The town also sits at the centre of the Innovation Corridor, between London and Cambridge along the M11, which is the UK’s leading sci-tech region. Planned major investments like town centre regeneration, a new hospital and the relocation of the UK Health Security Agency, position Harlow in a key leadership role to help shape the future of the Innovation Corridor and strengthen the town’s existing life science and advanced manufacturing base.

The strategy plans in the short, medium and long term to address the barriers hampering economic growth and will look to capitalise on the town’s unique strategic advantage geographically.

Councillor Joel Charles, cabinet portfolio holder for business and community resilience, who launched the draft strategy at a visit to SMARTKAS at the Harlow Innovation Park, said:

“The council is embarking on an ambitious strategy to position Harlow as the best destination for businesses to relocate given our close proximity to London, Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Harlow is best placed for businesses across different sectors to run their operations from in order that they can access domestic and international commercial opportunities. The town is already home to a number of employers spanning several different sectors. Life science, advanced manufacturing and logistics employers have been a key part of the local economy for some time, but it is important to continue to diversify our employment base. That is why the strategy also looks at ways to attract green industries to the town, because targeting employers in that space is just one of the potential routes to create jobs that will enhance the local economy in the long term.

“Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of our local economy, so the strategy also sets out plans to support them to expand by helping to find the right workforce to deliver their ambitions, offering a forum to network more regularly and facilitating opportunities for employers to pursue new business ventures.

“The Economic Development Strategy provides a roadmap to position Harlow as the business growth capital of the East of England. Over the course of the next five years the council will pursue a relentless focus on job creation, accessing new targeted investment in infrastructure and work to support the establishment of a new industry base that will help enhance the prosperity of the town.”      

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4 Comments for Harlow Council strategy to attract new business investment, help create jobs and support existing local employers to expand:

Adam Taylor
2023-03-20 12:34:05

We are based there in the Arise building and it has been excellent, and enabled growth we have increased head count every year we have been there Never seen Joel though, if fancies a visit to see our newly launched products which just had thier first launch customers in the US space industry he is welcome to come and visit.

Peter Henegan
2023-03-20 15:45:17

This is a very positive approach but some aspects need clarification. A minor point perhaps but does Harlow actually have a traffic congestion problem outside the normal rush hour/school run times. Robert Halfon does, of course all want us to use cars as much as possible. To sell the town does it need to look smart. The roads, footpaths and cycle tracks need work to put them into the pristine condition that we see on in old pictures. Of course, an improved cycle network can reduce car use and congestion. The town actually has some fantastic views eg first avenue-the church and silver bird, third avenue looking south towards the old passmores being examples. More critically, what actually is happening to the UK Health security agency. How many people will it actually employ and whatever the number will it compete with businesses for staff. Will Harlow actually have workers or will they be driving in. I felt in years gone by Harlow suffered because Manager types worked here but did not live in the town thus had little interest in the town and did not spend money here. I see the hospital is mentioned, it seems that this will actually not be in the town. How do existing staff get to work, how many actually walk, something they won't be doing in the future. Nit picking perhaps but overall it is good to see a positive direction, we are certainly in a good location and don't forget our port links to Europe. It won't affect me much put for the youngsters it has to be great

Clive sims
2023-03-20 17:01:59

While this article accurately describes the problems businesses face in this town, nothing in the article seems to address those problems.

David Forman
2023-03-20 18:10:22

The lack of employment land is an interesting one. The Enterprise Zone is short of 10 acres of land originally owned by the New Towns Commission (NTC) and subject of a failed compulsory purchase order (CPO). The land value overage clause is subject of a dispute between current land owners Powerrapid Ltd and Homes England (successor to NTC). I believe our Tory council was appealing the costs order imposed by the High Court over the failed CPO. I wonder what happened to that appeal?

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