|CORNWALL: THE MIX|
Mark Yeoman, Strategic Manager, Objective One Partnership
I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to such a positive and prestigious occasion.
His Royal Highness will be joining us once he has viewed the exhibitions on display in the adjoining hall. In the meantime, I’d like to use this opportunity to talk about the progress of the Objective One Programme to date.
Time for celebration
Let us be clear. This is a moment for celebration and one that we should all share.
In the three years that the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has been operational, the region has come a long way.
Much has been achieved, with major contributions by all the organisations represented in this room.
Although much planning preceded it, the Objective One Programme effectively became ‘live’ in September 2000 when the Programme’s Working Group met to consider the first projects.
That first Working Group recommended 14 projects for approval.
Since then, we have had well over 20 times that number of projects agreed. Objective One has become firmly established as an effective mechanism and the Programme has been steadily delivering investment that will have a major impact on the region’s future economic prosperity.
To date we have met and exceeded all our financial targets and have seen some exciting projects emerge.
Ahead of schedule
The fact that we are on target financially – and ahead of schedule in some areas – is excellent news.
That is because the sooner that investment is allocated, the sooner we will start to get a return on investment – and see the results in the form of jobs, training and sales.
And by performing well, we also put ourselves in line for a possible bonus of 4% of the Programme’s value. That’s over £12m.Our performance will be judged on our ability to deliver our Programme.
Opportunity to take a look at progress of Objective One Programme
Behind me you can see just some of the exciting and innovative projects that Objective One has made possible:
The presentations and exhibitions that are taking place here today are a welcome opportunity to highlight the changes now taking place in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and to examine the impact that Objective One has already had.
Before we look at how far we have come, we should first take a moment to remind ourselves of how things used to be.
Look back – economic challenges hidden
Historically – although only too apparent to the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – the economic challenges of the region used to be hidden – hidden by statistics.
That situation masked – in statistical terms – the fact that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had serious economic challenges resulting from decades of decline. It also meant that as long as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were treated as part of a larger region we would never be eligible for the maximum level of investment from the European Union.
Recognition & partnership
The long campaign for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be recognised – and the need for investment – is well known.
The case was won in 1999 when Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was identified as a European region in its own right. That success also meant Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly immediately became eligible for Objective One status - recognising its position as one of the European Union regions most in need of support in the form of investment to help transform its economy.
A partnership of organisations - including the Government Office for the South West, the various councils for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, DEFRA, the South West RDA, PROSPER and representatives of the private, voluntary and environment sectors – then put together the Single Programming Document – or SPD.
SPD – a contract with Europe
This document – which will guide the Programme throughout its life – is effectively the business plan that forms the contract between the UK and the EC, setting out the rules for how European investment through Objective One will be used.
In 1999, the SPD described Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as having “a narrow economic base, with a preponderance of low value added sectors.” Important sectors identified at the time were agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
Low pay and unemployment were particular issues, made worse by the seasonal and part-time nature of many jobs.
However, we also highlighted a number of positive features of the economy. Against the national trend, manufacturing employment had increased significantly and most importantly the area was identified as having a significant entrepreneurial and business base.
New developments – such as the growth of businesses in the information and environmental sectors – provided hope and potential building blocks for the future.
I would now like to introduce Katie Toms the information assistant from the Partnership Office who will speak some of the changes that the Programme has helped bring about. Katie…
The announcement in 1999 of around £300 million of Objective One investment for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – to be matched with money from the UK’s private and public sectors – was tremendous news.
Although this amount of money seems enormous, it is equivalent to only a few percent of the region’s annual GDP and has to be spread over seven years.
The Programme is looking for specific returns from its investment – in particular jobs, sales, training and better skills.
Objective One is a catalyst for economic change and not the entire solution.
Enormous leap forward – change of attitude
So, what has changed? It is only four years since it was announced that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had been given Objective One status and less than three years since the first Objective One projects were approved.
The point of Objective One is not to attempt quick fix, short-term solutions. It is about enabling a step-change – bringing about a long-term shift in attitudes, opportunities and prosperity.
Objective One’s vision is to enable Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be “a place where people and communities have equal access to opportunities and to a quality of life which arise from the sustainable development of its economy and its environment and the enhancement of its distinctiveness”.
That’s quite a challenge. Which is exactly why Objective One is not a short term Programme. The current Programme runs until 2006. But even then it won’t be over. Projects approved during the latter years of the Programme will still be running until as late as 2008.
As Objective One is a catalyst for wider change, we won’t be able to make any final analysis of the Programme’s Impact until some years after its conclusion.
Delivery so far
There may be a long way to go, however, I think we can be extremely proud of what has been achieved to date.
The total amount of Objective One investment coming from Europe through this Programme will be around £300 million – the exact amount will depend on exchange rates as the allocation is made in Euros.
By the end of April 2003, Objective One has approved nearly £160 million in European investment for 355 projects – with nearly £56 million of that figure already spent.
That European investment is also being matched from the public and private sectors, bringing the total value of those 355 projects to almost £395 million.
What has the money bought?
The majority of the projects approved are long-term schemes.
Each project is unique and each will make its own contribution to the achievement of the Objective One vision of a prosperous Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Together, these projects will have a significant – and tangible – impact on the economic well-being of the region.
During the lifetime of the Programme, these projects will lead to:
The range of what Objective One is buying is enormous, for example:
Importance of quality
Just as important as the range of what Objective One is buying is the quality of what it is buying.
As you will all know from your own experience, getting Objective One approval is not easy. And neither should it be.
This Programme is not exclusively for the benefit of those people living and working in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly now. It is also for the benefit of those of us who will be working here in the future.
Our task is to provide the opportunities that create sustainable economic and long-term, absolute prosperity – while protecting and enhancing the region’s environmental and cultural distinctiveness.
To do that, we must seek the best possible projects and the maximum return on investment. Every project approved has to not only be financially and practically viable, it must also be a high quality project that delivers real change.
This change that Katie has been talking about comes at all levels. Objective One is about helping the instigators of economic change.
Objective One is about building better business for the future by supporting growth through IT, finance and business advice.
Enabling the construction of office premises, factories and business
parks, to create the framework for successful and enduring businesses
Objective One is about cultivating the distinctiveness of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and building capacity in key industries like tourism, whether it’s:
Objective One is about creating opportunities for all by investing in training and education to give people the appropriate skills to acquire jobs, or improve skills they already have so they can upgrade to better employment, whether that’s through:
Objective One is about setting up gateway or umbrella funds that can provide direct investment support to specific economic sectors to enable them to grow and prosper, whether that’s:
The progress made to date is clear.
Increasing economic prosperity through developing a workforce with high quality skills that match the needs of business – and the individual opportunities for better salaries that brings – or from the point of view of investing in the building blocks of better business.
Investing in those aspects of the region’s culture, heritage and landscape that give local agriculture, tourism and other industries a competitive advantage, or from the point of view of developing pioneering projects that adopt innovative practices from around the world – and sometimes lead the way.
The challenge ahead
As we approach the midway point of the Programme it is clear that an enormous amount has already been achieved. The challenge ahead is to ensure that the momentum is maintained to ensure that this vital investment is used wisely.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is a unique region with its own distinctive qualities. Over the coming years, we must not only respect the unique character of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, we must continue to turn it to our advantage, whilst ensuring its conservation.
We must also continue to be vigilant. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has a place in our hearts and all of the partners in the Programme are committed to achieving that vision of a prosperous Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly where all communities share in an improving quality of life.
This is precisely why we must make sure that our heads rule our hearts. The investment coming through Objective One is limited. It is a toolkit, not a complete solution.
The Objective One Programme has the role equivalent to that of an investment bank and not that of a developer – it therefore needs partners to come forward with not just with ideas but deliverable projects in which it can invest to achieve the agreed returns – jobs, sales, training and skills.
However, simply allocating and spending European investment – even to meet genuine needs – is not in itself enough.
The question “Are we spending enough?” is not adequate.
The question must be “What are we buying and why?”
Over the next three-and-a-half years, we must continue to integrate our dedication to the region with a sound business sense and ensure that we build on the momentum and achievement that the Programme has already produced, with Results that are embedded into the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
I have already spoken about how Objective One is building better business through numerous construction projects. I have spoken about how the Programme's investment in the way to work is helping the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to acquire new skills and how investment in the region’s distinctive qualities and its indigenous resources are helping to promote Cornwall. I have also spoken about how pioneering projects are being developed which look at economic opportunities in innovative ways.
One project that encapsulates all those facets of Objective One is the Combined Universities in Cornwall or CUC.
The CUC really is Objective One’s flagship project –the Programme has invested in creating the CUC’s hub – the new campus being built at Penryn – and the development of its rim at sites across Cornwall.
Those rim developments include the very building we are in now – Truro College’s Helford Building.
However, the importance of the CUC project is not just the buildings but what actually happens inside them.
And so, it gives me great pleasure to hand over to Gordon Kelly.