Five key projects, set to act as catalysts for Gloucestershire’s ongoing economic recovery, are the primary focus for the incoming chairwoman of the influential business group, GFirst LEP.
Ruth Dooley’s appointment to the role at the head of the local enterprise partnership, established to help drive the county’s economy, was revealed earlier this August 2021.
She takes over from long-standing chairwoman and GFirst LEP architect, Diane Savory, at a time when the county is looking to the organisation to continue to lead its recovery from the economic impact of Covid-19.
‘It has been a really difficult time, but the LEP has a really strong team put together under Diane and David Owen’s leadership with really strong skills and knowledge.
‘It has built strong relationships with the likes of the local authorities and MPs. All of which will help make sure the county continues to get things done,’ said Ms Dooley, whose day job remains as a senior partner at Hazlewoods accountants.
Speaking of the LEP’s five key projects, Ms Dooley said: ‘We have the Minster Exchange in Cheltenham, which will also be home for Cheltenham Growth Hub and Cheltenham Festivals; the Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College; the Construction Education Centre (AccXel) in the Forest of Dean; The Digital Innovation Farm with Hartpury University; and the Cyber Incubation Units with Gloucestershire College.’
All were announced by LEP chief executive, David Owen, in the midst of the pandemic, made possible by the £11.3 million that GFirst LEP won from the government’s Getting Building Fund.
It was a statement underlining what GFirst LEP quickly became in the crisis – an organisation which provided some economic certainty and leadership in unprecedented times. Its relationship with central government paid dividends.
Its Growth Hub network, established to help businesses of all sizes to succeed, became something of a fourth emergency services for those feeling the pressure of the pandemic.
‘It is not just me,’ said Ms Dooley, who has been on the GFirst LEP board for more than two years.
‘There are four other new faces coming onto the board. Like the businesspeople already involved, they all bring exceptional knowledge and a commitment to making the county an ongoing success.’
For more information, visit gfirstlep.com.
By Andrew Merrell
Follow SoGlos on LinkedIn and sign-up to the weekly SoGlos business newsletter for the very latest Gloucestershire business news stories.