The latest GVA statistics have been warmly welcomed by the director of the Convergence Partnership Office, Carleen Kelemen.
For the first time in over a decade, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has lifted itself off the bottom rung of the economic ladder. And its growth rate of 6.1% is second only to Inner London which is top of the GVA table.
However, despite these figures – which measure the value of work in the economy – only being released yesterday, they reflect 2007 and much has changed since then, a fact noted by Kelemen.
She commented: “Realistically these figures are historic – today’s global financial and economic circumstances are very different to anything that we have seen before and equally, unpredictable. Nevertheless, European economic programmes have and continue to make a positive impact on the local economy and to the increasing visibility of Cornwall as a ‘can do’ place for business and education.
“The Objective One Programme, which ran until 2006, was successfully used to invest in renewing the economic assets of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This included: playing a key role in re-energising our agri-food businesses, and tourism sector (for example through the growth The Eden Project and NHS Food Processing unit); widening people’s opportunities by helping people into work and up-skill those already in employment; and by investing in new economic assets such as the Combined Universities in Cornwall and actnow – which brought high speed broadband to the area – which will help us maximise the economic upturn whenever it happens.
“Likewise the Convergence programmes are being put to good effect today – with European Social Fund Convergence being used to help people looking for work and provide new skills for those in work and European Regional Development Fund Convergence making investments that look to the future — such as the expansion of businesses as varied as Watson Marlow and Cornish Crabbers and in investing in the sectors of a greener future such as the Wave Hub off St Ives Bay and PRIMaRE (the joint Exeter University and University of Plymouth marine research institute) to develop business related marine renewable energy research and innovation to help grow new and valuable businesses.
“As we have always emphasised, this is a long term journey and there is still a lot of partnership work and focussed investment needed to rebalance the economy. In particular we need to continue to grow higher value businesses able to pay higher wages.”