A new group is being launched to boost business in Surrey as new figures reveal the county’s economy grew by 7% in two years during the downturn.
Surrey Future – which brings together business leaders, the county council and boroughs and districts – aims to help Surrey firms thrive and encourage new start-ups.
Its launch comes as latest figures show that Surrey’s economy grew by 7% between 2009 and 2011 despite the national outlook remaining bleak.
That growth generated more than £30 billion annually for the UK economy – more than cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds – and meant the county contributed more income taxation to the Exchequer than everywhere except the City of London.
Surrey Future aims to establish a list of key investment priorities over the next 20-plus years. The initial focus will be on tackling overcrowding on trains and cutting congestion on some of Britain’s busiest roads as well as drawing up a ‘to do’ list of transport schemes in preparation for funding bids.
The group’s launch is just one of a host of ways the council plans to boost business that are set out in a new county council Cabinet report to build on the steps already taken. Others include unlocking land to unleash development, working with business to support innovation and talking to the government about ways to support investment in Surrey.
Surrey County Council’s Leader David Hodge said: “We’re committed to taking an active role in supporting the county’s economy, helping it to grow and generate more jobs. Surrey Future will help us do that both now and over the coming decades.
“Surrey is an engine room for the national economy and a centre for innovation. Sustained investment is vital if we are to accelerate the recovery and lead the rest of the UK into prosperity.
“Investing in the county’s overburdened roads and rail network will be key to this because good travel links help businesses run more efficiently while making the best possible use of land will play a big part in accelerating development.”
David Hill, Chief Executive of Guildford Borough Council and Chair of the Surrey Future Steering Group, said: “We are working together across Surrey for the future of our community and local economy, to generate growth and opportunities.
“We know that supporting economic prosperity is vital for local quality of life and the real difference Surrey’s economy makes to the whole country. Surrey Future’s programme is about unlocking more of Surrey’s potential and improving local infrastructure.”
Surrey Future launches officially on Wednesday, 6 March.