Providing the right tools for businesses and opportunities to develop new skills are key to St Helens Borough Council’s plan to boost the economy post Covid-19.
The council’s Economic Recovery Plan, approved by Cabinet, outlines the council’s aim to develop and support the borough’s businesses to survive, adapt and thrive in the new economy; invest in people and skills to ensure the labour market is flexible and able to grow; ensure major investments progress to secure inclusive growth and maximise the opportunities of a green recovery to drive inclusive growth and transformation.
The plan focuses on three core areas around Supporting Businesses, People Based Recovery and Place and a Green Recovery and has been created through consultation with the private sector, businesses, residents and community and voluntary groups.
A key part of the immediate support is around providing a digital infrastructure both through investment of ultrafast broadband for businesses and breaking down barriers for those who are in digital poverty through lack of access through to training to provide the right skills to make the most of this investment.
It will also look to build on the work to support people into work through projects like the recently launched Ways to Work hub in St Helens Town Centre providing a place for people to get advice and support to find work or build on their skills.
There is also a heavy focus on the major investment opportunities that will offer new business opportunities such as the partnership working with English Cities Fund for regenerating the town centres, Parkside and Omega North as well as building communities through new homes creation on sites like Moss Nook and Cowley Hill.
Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, Deputy Leader of St Helens Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Reset and Recovery, said: “The pandemic has carried with it a heavy toll on our borough and this has been heavily felt in our business community. Despite this many of our businesses showed how resilient and connected to our communities by stepping up to the call to action through St Helens Together.
“Now as we look forward to restrictions lifting with the hope that the economy is not further impacted by further measures we want to show how we have valued their support and help them by providing the right tools for their future, whether that is new infrastructure, a vibrant, capable workforce or bringing customers to their door through a range of events and attractions to bring people to our borough. We will make sure that every business across our town and village centres gets the right support for them.
“Now is about resetting our economy and not simply trying to return to what it was beforehand. We will continue to work with our partners across the borough and the wider region to make sure that St Helens Borough is getting its fair share of support which will foster a place where businesses see opportunity to develop and grow, harnessing the talents and skills of our residents to provide a workforce fit for the future and develop our town centres and communities to provide places for sustainable growth.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Education, added: “From innovative digital programmes to help businesses develop new ways of working, events to encourage people to visit our borough and new ways to provide people with help to build on skills, this plan shows our clear intent to make sure that our businesses will be in a position to benefit from growth as we start to see life return closer to pre-pandemic times. We have already put many of these plans in place, such as our new Ways to Work Hub which opened last month and provides easy to access help for those looking for work or to learn new skills. We also want to make sure that young people, who have borne the brunt of much of the economic impact of Covid-19 are given opportunities and harness the talent that we have here in our borough who could be future business leaders.
“This plan takes in the next steps up to the summer of 2022 but we are already looking at longer term approaches to supporting businesses and employment through an Inclusive Growth Strategy and a Skills and Employment Strategy that will build on our steps here.”