Prime Minister visits Herefordshire’s Enterprise Zone

Herefordshire Council leader, John Jarvis was joined by MP Jesse Norman and local business leaders on Thursday 5th January to meet Prime Minister, David Cameron during his visit to Rotherwas Business Park in Hereford.

The park was granted enterprise zone status in August 2011, thanks to a joint bid from the Herefordshire Business Board and Herefordshire Council.  It is this partnership between the private and public sector, combined with the county’s ability to attract businesses specializing in defence, security and science-based industries, that prompted the visit from the Prime Minister, who commented that Hereford’s zone is an ‘exemplar’ initiative.

The enterprise zone is another success contributing to the development of the county and Hereford city is one of the few areas that has been able to secure private funding during the current recession.  Business and council leaders believe that urban regeneration will boost the local economy significantly.PM David Cameron and MP Jesse Norman meet Ray Stone, Cllr John Jarvis and others during the PM's visit.

The bid was bolstered by the fact that the area has a good transport infrastructure thanks to the newly built Rotherwas access road, that flood mitigation was already underway and that the area had good wireless broadband coverage with planned ultra-fast broadband facilities.

The majority of the Rotherwas site is owned by Herefordshire Council, with some of the land available immediately for development and the entire site available by early 2012.

The prime minister was briefed on the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Herefordshire Business Board and the progress made by the Hereford Enterprise Zone Board in just four months.  Ray Stone (Chair, Hereford Enterprise Zone) and Nick Webster (Economic Development Manager, Herefordshire Council) then took him on a site visit around the North magazine and he also had the opportunity to meet a number of potential new businesses.

In a speech welcoming the Prime Minister to the county, Councillor John Jarvis, said: “Achieving enterprise zone status has provided us with an amazing opportunity to put the county on the map nationally and internationally.

“It is an essential element of our primary goal to regenerate the county and boost the average wage from £19.5k to £24k.  Combined with our success in keeping the city’s regeneration scheme on track means we are beginning to make some real improvements for the people of Herefordshire, helping our wonderful county be a place where people want to stay to live and work for generations to come.

“We’re determined to increase inward investment into the county because the regeneration of Hereford city and the rest of the county is an important basis on which to improve everything else. 

“We were delighted to welcome David Cameron to our county.  His visit endorses our plans and achievements and reinforces our belief that our ‘exemplar’ regeneration zone will contribute to the fact that Herefordshire has a strong future and is a good place to invest in.”