David Fletcher is Assistant Director for Economic Development at Hampshire County Council. He is responsible for economic development for a diverse £50 billion economy with a high proportion of knowledge-based activity, and his team’s responsibilities encompass economic strategy, place marketing, inward investment, enterprise and business support, tourism, rural development, skills development and physical regeneration. He attended the IED’s Delivering Place Competitiveness CPD workshop in May 2018.
“My main learning objectives from the workshop were to refresh my knowledge, participate in debate and discussion with peers in the sector, gain knowledge which can be cascaded to other colleagues, share best practice and develop my network of contacts,” explained David, who joined the Council in 2012, and whose role includes key support and liaison with both Hampshire Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – Solent and Enterprise M3. “Generally these objectives were all met – especially in terms of refreshing my own knowledge and approach to place competitiveness for Hampshire.”
The use of real case studies was particularly valuable to “develop our thinking around key issues” and to “realise that individual places must determine what their optimum economic role might be and work towards those strengths and assets”. David said: “Nigel Wilcock (IED Executive Director, who led the event) is a key practitioner and very active in the sector – both from a corporate and public sector perspective – which is crucial for learning to be relevant and rooted in the real world. The level of discussion, which is what I enjoy most, was good as was the calibre of workshop delegates. It is always good to hear how peers are facing often very similar challenges in their respective locations.”
David added that the workshop was also relevant in the context of the current Commission of Inquiry process he is directly involved in working through to establish a vision for Hampshire 2050. “Place competitiveness, and best practice in this field globally, features strongly in my recent analysis of where Hampshire needs to develop itself as a place to retain its strong competitiveness,” he said. “There is no doubt that participating in the workshop has assisted in developing my thoughts around this agenda.”
Finally, David praised the IED for its provision of CPD opportunities. “It is excellent to have an organisation that supports economic development professionals, which is a relatively small but very influential community in the public sector. Having training and development opportunities specifically designed and focused around the key agendas we deal with on a daily basis (but which many others in the public sector do not) is invaluable. I would absolutely recommend these IED CPD workshops to others.”