The chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership today paid tribute to the region’s business community for its ‘fierce determination’ to bounce back from the Covid pandemic.

Mandy Thorn MBE said tens of thousands of businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin had demonstrated just what makes the region such an outstanding place to do business by their response to the lockdowns of the last 18 months.

Mrs Thorn was speaking as she unveiled the new annual report from the LEP – the organisation which has been at the forefront of driving economic growth in the region for the last decade.

The new report – published entirely digitally for the first time – highlights the LEP’s key achievements over both the past year and the last decade.

In her welcome to the report Mrs Thorn says: “I want to pay a huge tribute to each and every one of the tens of thousands of businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin who have worked so hard to come through the last 18 months.

“For all of you, it has meant a journey into the unknown; sleepless nights worrying about the future and a fierce determination to survive and come back stronger.

“It is that spirit which makes this region such an outstanding place to do business.”

The annual report details some of the LEP’s key achievements over the past 12 months – including the continued success of its business support service, the Marches Growth Hub, the growth of its enterprise zone at Skylon Park in Hereford, and progress on landmark projects.

Examples include the opening of the renovated Shell Store and new Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security in Hereford, continued work to renovate Shrewsbury’s historic Flaxmill Maltings and the development of Oswestry Innovation Park, and the opening of the new Marches Centre of Excellence for Health and Social Care in Telford and ongoing development of the Ni.PARK agri-tech hub at Newport.

It also highlights the overall work of the LEP in the past 10 years in investing £145m in the Marches and attracting £200m of private sector investment, with more than 18,000 jobs created or on the way as a result.

The Government is currently conducting a review of all LEPs across the country, but Mrs Thorn said the figures demonstrated they were a huge force for good.

“LEPs have provided stable and valuable support for businesses and the wider economy and it’s important we are allowed to continue to fulfil this role while the economy continues to weather the impacts of the pandemic.

“We have been proud to reflect on our achievements in driving economic growth across the area during a decade of delivery. There is no corner of our wonderful region which has not benefitted in some way from the work of the LEP in the last 10 years.

“That work in building the infrastructure, skills, innovation and sustainability which will drive us forward from this pandemic is needed now more than ever.”

To view the report visit