April 16, 2021

“Economic development is front and centre of all our thinking”, says LEP Network CEO upon joining IED board

Mark Livesey, Chief Executive of The LEP Network, has been co-opted on to the Institute of Economic Development (IED) board of directors.

Under Mark, who previously held a dual role as Chief Executive of Marketing Cheshire and Deputy Chief Executive of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, The LEP Network champions the impact and value of LEPs in building local economic growth and prosperity across the country. To date, the 38 LEPs have delivered £15 billion of private sector investment, supported over 196,000 businesses, created over 180,000 jobs and helped to build over 100,000 homes, as well as equipping three million people with the skills that employers and business want, highlighting their critical importance to the UK economy.

Mark’s predecessor Warren Ralls, now a Director at the British Business Bank, also previously sat on the IED board – and Mark said he was “very pleased that the Institute had reached out to The LEP Network to continue the relationship”. He explained: “It is an important and critical time for countries and regions, both in terms of economic recovery and growing the economy, and we want to work directly with the economic development profession to do that. Local Industrial Strategies have pivoted to economic recovery plans, and our objective going forward is to feed these into the UK Industrial Strategy, and plug in the economic development profession to help us to achieve the goals that we have set out as an organisation.”

A former senior civil servant at the Department for Communities and Local Government, where he headed up the High Streets, Town Centres and Coastal team, ran the Housing and Planning Minister’s Private Office and led the national review of Business Improvement Districts amongst his roles over 17 years, Mark is well placed to understand the inner workings of Whitehall. “Economic development is front and centre of all our thinking,” he said. “Whilst issues such as the green agenda or skills may be discussed, LEPs and officials are thinking about these in a holistic way. From housing, skills, transport infrastructure and digital connectivity, economic development brings these issues together in the same conversation; and LEPs working with the IED can also ensure that discussion is rooted in place.”

Mark said there was the potential for The LEP Network and the IED to come together even more to represent economic development at a national level. “By virtue of channels of communication we can develop a common mission and narrative,” he revealed. “We do not need to reinvent the wheel, and should utilise our collective intelligence to make a difference. The LEP Network is closely aligned to the work of the IED and it is a huge benefit to developing a national approach and in doing so help influence government’s thinking. Working together there is more chance to implement the changes that benefit the economic development landscape.”

Having already proposed a £30 billion ‘Recovery and Rebuild Deal’ through The LEP Network’s submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review, which includes delivering a place-based rebuilding programme to level up and close the opportunity gap, Mark said that “Covid-19 recovery and economic development must be locally led”. He added: “This is such a critical time for local economies and LEPs have a fundamental role to play in ensuring local partners, including economic development professionals, work together to respond to the changes that the pandemic – and Brexit – will bring.”