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EEDA Celebrates First Year Achievements


In its first year, the new East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has funded over 500 different projects, won an extra 7 million in funding for the region and produced the first blueprint for economic development in the East of England.

Bill Samuel, EEDA's Chief Executive, explains: "It's been an exciting and challenging year for EEDA, not least because, unlike other regional development agencies, EEDA was set up almost from scratch one year ago. Our aim is to bring more successful businesses, better jobs and economic development and regeneration to the East of England, and in our first year we have taken a number of significant steps that will ensure increased prosperity for the region."

To mark its first anniversary, EEDA has produced a report called 'Year of Achievement' which outlines some of the agency's activities and achievements over the last 12 months. These include:

  • supporting 36 schemes through the Single Regeneration Budget, from Peterborough to Thurrock and from Great Yarmouth to Luton, which in the last year have created over 925 new jobs and safeguarded nearly 800 more

  • creating over 450 new jobs and bringing 26 hectares of vacant or derelict land back into use through its Land and Property programme 

  • approving 200 new projects in rural areas, which will create over 350 new jobs, lead to over 800 newly-qualified trainees and provide advice to nearly 780 businesses

  • funding skills projects including the establishment of four learning centres in Bedfordshire and Luton; identifying skills needs and gaps in the construction industry; and developing learning opportunities in East Norfolk

  • establishing business-led sector groups to increase business competitiveness in the East of England

  • starting work on developing a Regional Observatory - a web-based information network for the region

Mr Samuel added: "We are proud of our achievements to date, but there is still much to do. We have set ourselves challenging targets for the next year, as this will be the year in which we begin to deliver many of the actions outlined in our strategy for the region. We intend to work closely with all our regional partners - including the Regional Assembly, local government, business and the voluntary sector - to ensure the East of England reaches its full potential."

The first regional economic development strategy for the East of England, Moving Forward, was produced by EEDA in October 1999 after consultation with over 400 organisations across the region. From Moving Forward, EEDA has identified key priorities that are being followed to create a more prosperous region. These include:

  • implementing the regional innovation and technology strategy

  • establishing key business sector groups and improving business performance

  • establishing a Regional Venture Capital Fund

  • targeting regeneration funds to areas of greatest need

  • targeting the skills strategy to meet the region's need

  • realising the potential of the Thames Gateway for the region

  • establishing the East of England European Partnership as a powerful advocate for the region

  • securing support for competitive infrastructure

  • enhancing the quality of the rural and urban environment

EEDA is one of eight agencies set up by the Government to devolve powers from Whitehall to the regions and ensure resources are allocated to the most needy areas. Its administrative headquarters are at Histon, near Cambridge, with offices at Bury St Edmunds, Norwich and Bedford. Regional economic advisors will soon be appointed, who will be based in each of EEDA's six county areas: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

"EEDA has come a long way in its first year," continued Mr Samuel. "As we enter our first proper year of activity, people across the region will really start to notice the difference that EEDA can make to everyday life, by working with partnerships across the region."

April 2000

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Contact:
Vivienne Oxley
East of England Development Agency 
Tel: 01223 713957

EEDA Website

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