Norwich can cash in with coastal enterprise zone
Businesses across Norwich could receive a shot in the arm should the government back plans to create an enterprise zone in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, according to backers of the scheme.
The government is establishing 21 Enterprise Zones across England, which will benefit from simplified planning rules and a business rate discount for new and expanding businesses.
New Anglia, the Local Enterprise Partnership (Lep), is supporting a proposal put together by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance centred on the energy industry, aimed at attracting new firms to set up at seven sites in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas.
New Anglia chairman Andy Wood said the Enterprise Zone could create up to 2,000 jobs and attract 80 businesses by 2015 and 13,500 jobs and 200 businesses over the lifetime of the zone.
Any increase in business rates will be retained by the Lep to support economic development across the area, including Norwich – which could generate up to �200m over the next 25 years and create more than 10,000 additional jobs.
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But supporters also believe that firms in the city will also see a direct spin-off should the plans get the green light.
Norwich South MP Simon Wright, pictured below, said the bid had the support of all nine Norfolk MPs – and with plans to allow New Anglia to spend some of the additional business rates locally, that could also bring extra investment benefits to the city.
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'We recognise the significant growth potential that there is in the energy sector including in low carbon and renewables including here in Norwich,' Mr Wright said.
'This bid will bring jobs to Norwich as we have a number of companies involved in the supply chain. If it's successful and we get the expected �50bn investment in the energy industry, Norwich will see considerable benefits.'
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, pictured below left, said: 'A zone encouraging business activity in Yarmouth is good for Norwich because so many more jobs will bring more spending to the area. The supply chain for firms in the energy industries spreads through the whole county, and people will naturally want to shop and spend leisure time in Norwich and maybe live here. That's good for the whole area, and is why I supported the bid, when no obvious Norwich option was feasible.'
Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development at Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance chairman, said the bid 'ticks all the boxes'.
Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk chamber of commerce, said: 'Norfolk Chamber sees this as a great opportunity to attract new significant businesses into the area to enhance and provide new opportunities for Norfolk's supply chain.'
Launched by chancellor George Osborne, the proposed enterprise zones are part of the coalition government's attempts to deliver growth and new jobs, as well as re-balancing the economy away from an over-reliance on the public sector and the City of London.
Businesses within the proposed zones would benefit from a reduction in business rates, a relaxation of planning rules to encourage development and the roll-out of superfast broadband.
Do you have a business story? Contact reporter Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org