A plan to increase the Northamptonshire economy from £16 billion to £20 billion by 2021 has been revealed by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership.
NEP outlined its plans at an event last week where it revealed that the food and drink sector was a key target for future growth.
More than 60 businesses, including Carlsberg UK and Weetabix, attended NEP’s official food and drink briefing at Royal & Derngate last week. The focus of the session was to maximise the future growth of the sector with an emphasis on jobs and careers for young people.
The food and drink industry currently employs 46,000 people in Northamptonshire and contributes £1.5 billion to the local economy. Commissioned in Autumn 2014, NEP’s Food & Drink Strategy Board drives economic growth by directing and commissioning local business support and grants, supporting employment and skills and by making sure that Northamptonshire has the necessary infrastructure.
The briefing, opened by Declan Kennedy, general manager, TMI Foods and Joint-chair of the Food & Drink Strategy Board, included feedback from recent interviews and focus group sessions with 60 food and drink businesses including manufacturers and those working in agriculture and retail/hospitality. This feedback, such as the need for a searchable supply chain directory, will inform the development of the Northamptonshire Food & Drink Work Programme moving forward.
Tim Bagshaw, head of investment at NEP, said: “It is hugely important that the voice of those in business in the Northamptonshire Food & Drink sector be heard and to align NEP’s growth strategy with areas that need the most support.
“It is equally important for us to communicate directly with those businesses that can maximise their growth potential by benefiting from funding opportunities and grants as they arise. This we will continue to do.”
The briefing also saw the announcement of a new manufacturing forum (across all Northamptonshire sectors) in partnership with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and details of a forthcoming Food & Drink Supply Chain Directory due to be launched in October 2015.
The briefing included presentations by Nene View Dairy, TMI Foods and Hamm Tun Fine Foods on their recent business success and development strategy, a summary of NEP’s Love Bright Futures campaign, a review of the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards 2015/16 and an overview of plans for Moulton College’s new Food & Drink Technology Academy* by Gerald Davies, Deputy Principal/Deputy Chief Executive at the college.
NEP also launched a new website on the food and drink industry in the county - www.northamptonshireep.co.uk/food