The latest articles on the Convergence programme showing the integration of activity, lessons learnt and good practice available here...
Introduction to Convergence Programmes. The League magazine.
Economic decline, credit crunch, recession, increasing unemployment, closures, insolvencies, the collapse of the western world's financial systems - negative messages about our economic climate which have been raining down on us since "the Rock" crumbled last year. And if we missed the point, the Bank of England emphasised the fact that this is the first global recession in recorded history.
It's tough, but we mustn’t talk ourselves into something worse. The fundamental problem for businesses is about confidence and trust.
History writes that economic conditions continually change and there are always those issues which are part of the fabric of business in good times or bad – issues such as credit lines, skilled resources, developing new markets and connectivity.
Economic cycles are part of life but this time we have the investment injection of £500 million worth of European structural funding – the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence Programmes.
So while global economic conditions are at best challenging many businesses in Cornwall will be up to that challenge, able to weather the downturn and some to even prosper through it.
Here Convergence follows on from the Objective One Programme which laid the foundations to restructure our economy with initiatives including the creation of the Combined Universities in Cornwall, the introduction of high speed broadband access across 99% of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, modern workspace, regjuvenated town centres and a raft of business support from investment to expert mentoring and graduate knowledge.
It’s now just over one year since Convergence was launched and those foundations are gradually being reinforced. That investment is split into four clear themes - Developing our People, Strengthening Business, Investing in our Future (via higher education and research) and making Connections (through trade, digital technologies and knowledge networks).
ERDF Convergence investments so far include £4.8 million to the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry for Cornwall’s campus of the first dental college in the UK for 40 years plus top quality research facilities; Watson Marlow Bredel about £770,000 for a £3.5 million expansion so the company continues to be globally competitive; £9 million for business facilities at Pool Innovation Centre and £4.6 million in Business Link to support those businesses with potential and ambition for high growth.
ESF Convergence investments include £4 million in Unlocking Cornish Potential which places and support graduates with businesses; £48 million with the Learning and Skills Council to train, skill and upskill those in and out of work and £16 million with Jobcentre Plus.
Through Objective One and now with Convergence underway we have always repeated the messages that these programmes are about the long term development of our economy. To continue the journey to restructure an economy is a massive undertaking. But with this strategic investment, partnership work and the entrepreneurial spirit of those in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we have the opportunity to build a stronger economy. An economy where innovation, equal opportunity and new business activity of the future will shape Cornwall into the next decade.
Watch this space.