Channel 4 move will help inclusive growth, says LEP chair

Channel 4 move will help inclusive growth, says LEP chair

Channel 4’s move to Leeds will impact the region far beyond inward investment, according to Roger Marsh, chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Speaking to Insider at MIPIM today (13 March 2019) Marsh said the decision by the broadcaster, which was taken in October last year, would help address the social divide that sits behind economic development.

It is part of a growing narrative in the regional cities about inclusive growth, which are seeking to create cities and city regions that ‘work for everyone’.

Marsh said: "It helps brand the city and city region, but our campaign was all about creating a spark in the digital and creative industries and that means more opportunities for young people.

"Rather than having to think they have to go somewhere else to develop their careers, they can do it in Leeds."

Marsh said focusing on key sectors that supported growing productivity and pushed up living standards were essential in order to create the "social dividend from economic growth that is the real prize".

He added that while the city region had a lot to celebrate it also had one in eight homes that still lived in fuel poverty, which "is not acceptable".

Following the Channel 4 announcement, production companies including Workerbee (formerly Endemol Shine North) and broadcaster UKTV have announced plans top open offices in the city.

Marsh added: "An important point is that after London, Leeds City Region produces more STEAM (science technology, engineering, arts and maths graduates) than anywhere else in the country.

"We also have the largest teaching hospital in Europe, the Open Data Institute and the largest concentration of health analytics in the country. We have got all the ingredients to be competitive and be the northern solution to the UK problem in terms of growth.

"As a region that is a fifth of the Northern Powerhouse, if we don’t really knock it out of the park, it will be suboptimal."

Marsh is also the chair of the NP-11, the group of northern LEPs which was brought together by government to explore opportunities to collaborate.

He said progress was "so far, so good".

"We have decided some of the areas – such as trade and investment – where we could make the case more meaningfully for each other. If health tech is a strength in the Leeds City Region, let’s get behind that as the north."