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COVID-19: One year on

1 March 2021

If on the 1 March 2020 someone gave us a preview of the year to come, we would not have believed them. The last year has seen a vast shift in the way we live our lives, the way we do business and the way we value one and other.

While the way we live may never be quite the same again, here at the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), we are hopeful that our business community will come back bigger, better and more resilient than ever.

Over the past year, we have received over 4,000 enquiries from businesses. Understandably, last March, we were receiving an exceptional number of enquiries from businesses to discuss their fears of the implications of a national lockdown. One year on, while we would have never imagined a third lockdown and COVID uncertainty still surrounding us, the UK business market is recovering and unlocking new opportunities.

Over the past month, we’ve been speaking to ambitions entrepreneurs about taking their new ideas forward and existing business owners about utilising the opportunities present by the EU Exit, COVID recovery and future markets.

While we remain in a National lockdown, we are cautiously optimistic about our future. With England’s inoculation programme in full swing, The Bank of England’s Forecast has become significantly more optimistic – Predicting a faster recover than initially thought.
2021 may not offer the normality we all crave, but it does offer a unique opportunity for businesses to adapt, grow and come back more resilient.

Sharing insight and advice, we asked our team of experts at SEMLEP how to remain resilient over the coming year. Here’s what they said:

“Don’t give up hope. Whilst recognising the scale of the challenge faced by so many businesses, if I reflect on the last year, the stand-out observation for me is the number of enquiries we have received. These enquiries were not from organisations who were struggling to survive, but from innovative business leaders who were using the period to strategize, innovate, develop new products or services, expand or even open new sites and facilities. It is heartening to see this wide-spread zest for growth and great that these entrepreneurs are reaching out to the LEP for support in delivering these investments and exciting projects.”
- Jon Rawcliffe, Investment and Innovation Manager

“Business leaders who adjust and drive innovation will flourish in the post-COVID-19 world, while businesses who are adaptable to change are more likely to survive and thrive. Bold steps must be made to drive change in a ‘Black Swan’ event.”
- Jacqueline Day, High Growth Business Adviser

“While there have clearly been devastating impacts on some sectors of businesses and for individuals, the fundamentals of the economy have remained strong. We expect spending will recover quickly, which should see the economy to rebound at a relatively rapid rate as restrictions are lifted.”
- Claire Ackroyd, Senior Economic Analyst

If you’d like further support for your business to navigate the pandemic, Brexit or to unlock growth opportunities, the team at SEMLEP’s Growth Hub can help.

With a team of six Business Advisers, three High Growth Business Advisers and multiple fully funded programmes designed to support businesses at different stages of growth, the Growth Hub is your one-stop-shop for local business support, advice and guidance.
Contact the team by calling 0300 01234 35 or visiting www.semlepgrowthhub.com.

Supporting the business community forms part of SEMLEP wider work to rebuild our economy. In 2019, the South East Midlands was one of the fastest-growing areas in England, already contributing some £50 billion p.a. to the UK economy. Whilst there is still uncertainty when restrictions will be lifted, our area is resilient.

In December, we published the area’s Economic Recovery Strategy. The document brings together the various actions that SEMLEP and its local partners have taken, are taking and will take in future, to help the South East Midlands to recover from the COVID pandemic, and to grow and prosper over the longer term.
To view strategy, visit: www.semlep.com/economic-recovery-strategy

Our actions are informed by key economic data and evidence including forecasts gathered by consultancy firm Lichfields and our economic analyst team. These are set out against five themes: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and place.

Here’s to a year we’ll never forget.

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