Convergence conference one year on


A major conference is taking place today marking a year since the £500 million ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence Programmes were launched in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

In that year more than £100 million worth of ESF and ERDF Convergence investment has been approved for a range of projects supporting individuals and businesses. Representatives from key organisations – including Government Office South West, Cornwall County Council and the South West RDA – have been invited to speak at the conference, which is hosted by Cornwall County Council at the Falmouth Hotel.
Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council economic portfolio holder, said: “The investment to date across Convergence is pleasing but much remains to be done, both to support our people and revitalise our economy – a challenge we will strive to meet.”
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This will be an annual event to acknowledge the achievements of Convergence investments and the close partnership work going on to strengthen our economy. Already, one year into the ERDF and ESF Convergence programmes there have been significant investments to build on the steady economic growth that we have experienced under the previous Objective One Programme.

“This conference gives the many partners, stakeholders, businesses and support agencies the opportunity to see the totality of the investment activity to date.”
Phil McVey, South West RDA Director of European Programmes, said: “A lot has been achieved in the first year of Convergence and the RDA would like to thank partners for those achievements. The following year will be even more challenging, but we are ready to play our part as managing agent for the ERDF Programme”.
Representatives from organisations contracting out much of the investment will also speak, including Jobcentre Plus and the Learning and Skills Council.
Carolyn Webster, Jobcentre Plus Devon and Cornwall District European Programmes Manager, said: “ESF Convergence investment has helped Jobcentre Plus and our delivery partners to respond quickly to the current economic climate by supporting people who are newly unemployed or at risk of redundancy as well as providing intensive help for people who face the biggest barriers to employment. Since July 2008, over 1000 people across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have benefited from our ESF provision”.
Mark Williams, ESF Director for the South West Learning and Skills Council, added: “The contracts we have agreed over the last year have started making a real difference to the lives and aspirations of the people of Cornwall.  Providing better access to training and support services is key to raising skill levels, reducing unemployment and improving self confidence in the workforce. All of which contribute to Cornwall’s strengthening social and economic environment.”
Investments include:
ERDF Convergence:
• The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. C£4.8 million for Cornwall’s campus of the first dental college in the UK for 40 years plus top quality research facilities.
• Watson Marlow Bredel. C£770,000 for a £3.5 million expansion so the company continues to be globally competitive.
• Truro-Falmouth railway. C£4.7 million to allow double the trains an hour encouraging business and academic links between Truro, Falmouth and the Combined Universities in Cornwall hub at Tremough.
• Pool Innovation Centre. C£9 million business facilities.
• Business Link. C£4.6 million to support businesses with potential and ambition for high growth.
• Combined Universities in Cornwall expansion at Penzance. C£4 million.
  ESF Convergence:
• Unlocking Cornish Potential. C£4 million. To place and support graduates with businesses in Cornwall.
• Learning and Skills Council. C£48 million. Delivered via partners contracted to train, skill and upskill those in and out of work.
• Jobcentre Plus. C£16 million. Tackling or overcoming barriers to employment.