A Radical Idea for a LEP…

First of all reject the temptation to be entirely strategic.

Don’t try to analyse the economy like it is a game of monopoly where you can understand the roll of the dice, seeing and preparing for an uncertain future.  Don’t pretend that people and their aspirations count for nothing as you ponder the balance between investing in ports, ring-roads, runways or fibre.

Instead learn to compliment strategic development with a responsive approach.  One that engages residents in their hopes and aspirations for a better life and gives them the power and the responsibility to pursue them.  Put your faith and confidence in people.  Provide them with hope, leadership and support.

Dare to be relevant to people and not just ‘the business community’.

A city region of around 3m people like Leeds would require a network of around 75 coaches to provide access to person centred coaching support for everyone that really wanted it.

  • It would engage about 45 000 people in the process of providing direct hands on assistance to their peers.
  • It would provide direct assistance to about 16500 beneficiaries a year, the vast majority of whom would make significant progress in their personal journeys as a result of benefiting from a coaching rather than a coercive approach.
  • I would anticipate at least 750 sustainable business starts from this cohort every year.  I would envisage business survival rates around the 90% rate after 3 years.
  • It would make a very real difference to the perceptions of some 20 000 people a year about the extent to which they feel that they ‘belong to’ and ‘feel supported’ in their community.
  • In addition to traditional ‘enterprise’ outputs I would expect substantial impacts on health and well-being as well as increases in volunteering, cultural productivity, mental health, fitness and so forth.
  • It would help to integrate the dual priorities of economy and community rather than treating them as separate and often incompatible determinants.
  • Within 3-7 years I would expect it to have made a sustained and measurable difference to the enterprise culture in the city region.

And it would cost about £3.75 million a year.

The price of a very rich wo/man’s house.

NB this piece was prompted by reading ‘The Economic Opportunities and Challenges for the emerging Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in Yorkshire and Humber – Briefing Paper‘.

As far as it goes this is an ok piece of work. Unremittingly strategic, focussing on communications, infrastructure development and targeting support at key industries – all tried, tested and largely at best partially successful ideas for economic development.  One of the ideas challenges it identified is to develop sufficient ‘low skill jobs’ for our low skill economies.   It talks about the structures required to ensure integration of LEP structures across the region.  One can almost here the creaking of bureaucracy…


  1. £5k a start is what the bean counters will look at and then shake their heads BUT why not put this idea forward as the 57th LEP given the chaos that sems to be ensuing. Failing that why not use a Social Impact or Enterprise Bond mechanism to fund enterprise coaches and tie it to the development of something tangible, That way interest payable on the capital cost of say a community business incubator (yes I know your reservations Mike!) is released at the outset to pay for some of the coaching. I think enterprise bonds and social impact bonds are freally worth exploring here.

  2. One of my big issues with the traditional business support structure is that advisors (or coaches) are not paid enough and therefore are rarely valuable enough to recipients seeking advice. I have dealt with many advisors from publicly funded bodies and talked to many who have received their services; and almost every time the response was the same.

    “The service was ok but I wouldn’t pay for it.”

    Happy to support the coach idea but the job needs to be set at £40k a year minimum and individuals must have personal experience past (and preferably way past) creating a lifestyle business and then prove themselves to be invaluable to clients – in order to stay in post. Invaluable coaches create sustainable partnerships and create long term businesses.

    • Agree that coaches have to be well paid. And well managed. Really held to account for where they invest time and energy. Both they, and their clients must be able to demonstrate to local people (who are best placed to judge) that really valuable progress is being made.

      Look forward to seeing you at IEPC10!


  1. […] also mentions the Leeds LEP, worth £7bn, a lot of money in anybody’s book (aand Mike Chitty blew that one out of the water last October) which will at least partially go to consultancies and marketing agencies, and pay for […]

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