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The Exeter and Heart of Devon (EHOD) council partnership has been awarded the accolade of ‘Most Innovative Strategy’ in a national awards programme run by Institute of Economic Development (IED).
Representatives from Exeter City, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge councils launched the 2017-2020 Shared Economic Strategy last year, with the collaborative approach to working already proving effective.
Each local authority has taken ownership of one of four common economic initiatives: business support and transformation (led by Mid Devon); inward investment (led by Exeter City); strategic planning (led by East Devon); and employment and skills (led by Teignbridge).
The strategy established targets around increasing high-quality jobs, attracting and retaining investment, enabling development, as well as improving productivity, skills, qualifications and employability.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for Economy at Exeter City Council, said: “Working in partnership with our neighbouring councils has already delivered discernible results and, as we are all working towards similar goals, it was a logical step to bring our expertise together to devise a strategy that would achieve our shared targets.
“We estimate that there is approximately a 30% overlap between the four authorities in these areas of our work, which means we can be up to 30% more efficient by working collaboratively.”
Cllr Sutton continued: “This strategy is part of a wider goal for Exeter and the Heart of Devon; we’re striving to put the region on the map as a centre for excellence that is home to world-class research facilities, leading educational establishments and innovative, fast-growth businesses. We have ambitious plans for EHOD’s future, but plans we believe are entirely attainable if we work together as authorities and with the business community.”
Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, which submitted the IED award nomination of behalf of the project partners said: “We are delighted to receive this award for our EHOD Shared Economic Strategy which sets out our growth ambition, priorities and approach that we will take to enable the growth of our regional economy.
“Our strategy sets out a shared vision and framework to steer the economic interventions of the councils and partner organisations. We cannot create jobs and wealth in isolation, but we can create the right environment for businesses to ultimately grow and flourish.”
The IED is the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners. The awards have been designed to reward and share best practice of economic development practitioners.
IED Chair Bev Hurley commended the EHOD strategy: “The approach was striking as an innovative piece of work because the area of activity of the partnership and type of work carried out was entirely in response to business and was different to what had gone before spatially and in terms of scope. Its disregard for political boundaries and building a partnership from the bottom up is a major challenge and can be seen as an exemplar for others facing similar situations.”