More food firms and jobs could head to South Holland with plans to double the existing £2.5billion value of Greater Lincolnshire’s food industry over the next 15 years.
The Government has awarded £150,000 to Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to devise business cases for Food Enterprise zones centred on Holbeach, Hemswell near Gainsborough, and Europarc in north-east Lincolnshire.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who visited Lincoln on Thursday, said the step towards creating a Food Enterprise Zone here would lead to “great careers in food production”.
He said: “I think the key to helping young people get the economic opportunities they need in the area where they grew up is to attract businesses and investments in.
“South Holland has got lots of enormous strengths in agriculture – it’s one of the best agricultural areas of Europe.”
Prof Val Braybrooks, dean at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing – the Holbeach wing of the University of Lincoln – said the potential to develop the food industry here is vast.
She said: “Successful Enterprise Zones are a magnet for business investment and success would mean that both UK and international businesses in the food chain would be beating a path to invest in Holbeach – the potential to transform Holbeach is huge.
“Enterprise Zones are at the heart of the Government’s long-term economic strategy. Government investment is directed into geographical areas to kick-start transformational change that will yield significant economic growth, safeguard jobs and bring new employment opportunities on a large scale.
“They often translate into business parks that provide first class facilities for embryonic and established entrepreneurial business to grow and prosper.
“By encouraging businesses to be geographically located close together, business collaboration is encouraged and this results in a high degree of innovation and efficiency across the food supply chain.
“The dynamic business environment draws other businesses and investors into the Enterprise Zone creating a ‘jewellery quarter’ effect and fuelling further growth and new jobs.”
The university’s Holbeach campus is expected to play a key role in supporting the Enterprise Zone, particularly in research and innovation.
Greater Lincolnshire LEP recently secured £2.4million in Government Growth Deals money for each of two Holbeach projects – a new Agri-Food Centre of Excellence at the Holbeach University of Lincoln campus, a project that will cost £7million overall, and a roundabout at Peppermint Junction.
Included in the Peppermint Junction plan is a move to develop industry along one side of the A151 link road.
• See pages 8 and 9.