The Minister for Small Business Margot James was welcomed by Interim LEP Chair Asif Hamid on her first visit to the City Region before visiting the Baltic Creative last week (2nd December, 2016). Hosted by the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Margot James took part in a roundtable discussion with the LEP Board and senior business leaders at The Contact Company, Wirral before visiting the Baltic Creative in Liverpool. During the roundtable, the discussions centered around the City Regions’ Growth Strategy; the importance of providing residents with the right skills set for work, and how the Local Growth Hub is helping businesses find the right advice to help them grow. Asif Hamid, Interim Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Statistics show that the stock of SMEs in Liverpool City Region has increased by 25% since 2010, marginally outpacing the national rate of growth. We need to ensure this continues, both by seizing our opportunities and realising our bold ambitions set out in our City Region Growth Strategy. We therefore welcomed this opportunity to host this roundtable and share our views with Government.” Asif added: “It was also important for the Minister to meet some of our fantastic SMEs. Given that the City Region has the second fastest growing technology sector in the country, I am pleased that she chose to visit one of our jewels in the crown, namely the Baltic Creative. Here we are seeing truly innovative and ground-breaking companies all making a significant contribution not only to the regional economy but to the UK as a whole.” Later in the day the Minister visited the Baltic Creative and met with companies including Agent Marketing, Rare Studio; Health@Work; Orb Events, Red Ninja; Milky Tea; Natural Drinks Company and All About STEM. Small Business Minister Margot James said: “It was great to be in one of the UK’s greatest cities ahead of Small Business Saturday to meet some of its entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than 5,400 new businesses registered in Liverpool last year, creating thousands more jobs for local people and helping drive forward the Northern Powerhouse. “As the local growth champion for the region I had a constructive meeting with the Liverpool City Region LEP and was pleased to hear of their exciting plans to create more jobs and growth for the future.” Baltic Creative is now home to more than 450 firms including creative design agencies, app developers, software companies and artistic organisations and has a number of thriving food, drink and entertainment venues such as Camp & Furnace and Unit 51. Paul Corcoran, Managing Director at Agent Marketing said: “We were delighted to be asked by the LEP to organise and host a visit from Minister Margot James; Agent is celebrating our tenth birthday this year and we really welcomed the opportunity to share our story with the Minister. Liverpool is home to a number of remarkable businesses and the tour of the Baltic really gave her the chance to see all the exciting developments that are happening here and discover the impact that these organisations are having. As the number of SME’s in Liverpool City Region continues to grow year on year it’s important that these businesses are provided with the support that they need to ensure they continue to grow and create jobs in the city.” The visit highlighted the strength of the Digital and Creative sector in Liverpool City Region where there are around 3,500 businesses making an annual GVA contribution of almost £900m. Baltic Creative recently published its five-year business plan for the period 2016-2021 outlining its ambitious plans for future growth.