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Gloucestershire Business News

Business leaders asked to help shape Gloucestershire's economic future

More than 350 business leaders were today asked to help "future-proof" the county's economy - and given a taste of what advancing technology has in store.

They gathered at Hartpury University and College for the annual report by the economic partnership GFirst LEP .

And on the day when the Brexit negotiations reached a watershed there was a stark reminder that Gloucestershire has benefited from £37 million in European funding to help drive the county's economy.

The chair person of GFirst LEP, Dr Diane Savory and chief executive David Owen used the huge arena at Hartpury to deliver the progress report. Dr Savory said over the next 12 months the Local Enterprise Partnership wanted direct input from business leaders to build "an aspirational Local Industrial Strategy.

"This will lead to our next round of bids and funding, following Brexit with the creation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund."

David Owen said: "This year we have seen a flurry of projects come to fruition across Gloucestershire as well as the expansion of our Growth Hub service across the county.

"GFirst LEP continues to be one of the top performing Local Enterprise Partnerships in the country, supported by incredible enthusiasm from business."

Read more: Video: £95m boost to regional economy from one Gloucestershire business 

But Mr Owen said Gloucestershire still had five big economic challenges remaining. These are:

*To build more houses

*To provide a good supply of quality employment land

*Closing the gap between skills supply and economic demand

*Ensuring economic growth benefits the whole county

*Attracting more people under 40 to live and work in the county as the general population gets older.

Mr Owen said GFirst LEP was on course to deliver around £500 million of total investment in Gloucestershire. But he called on councillors to be brave enough to make the right decisions.

Then in a Top of the Pops style video presentation, business leaders were shown the Top 20 county projects that GFirst had made possible - both now and in the future.

In the number one spot (after the likes of Gloucester Transport Hub, the county airport investment and the stunning new Gloucestershire College campus at Cinderford) was the £22 million GFirst LEP have allocated for the UK's first dedicated Cyber Park in Cheltenham.

Set in 45 hectares it will generate more than 7,000 jobs and help establish Gloucestershire's reputation nationally an internationally as a cyber security centre.

The highpoint of today's presentation was an entertaining and thought provoking talk by the LEP's vice chair Adam Starkey on the march of new technology from self-driving cars to digital "humans" in the workforce - all of which is already a reality.

Read more: Video: £95m boost to regional economy from one Gloucestershire business 

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