The Institute of Economic Development (IED), the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners working for local and regional communities, has welcomed Sheffield City Region’s director for strategy and corporate affairs to its board of directors.
Mark Lynam is the first Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) representative to be elected to the IED’s 11-strong leadership team. Having worked in economic development for over 15 years, Mark is responsible for Sheffield City Region’s activities in economic policy, corporate affairs, inward investment and transport strategy.
He is involved in government initiatives and policies which support future transport investment in Sheffield, including HS2 and Transport for the North, and brings direct LEP presence to the IED.
“I’ve been involved in economic development and regeneration, and similar connected professions such as planning and surveying, throughout my career and I’ve joined the IED to help develop the sector and profession,” Mark said.
“At present, economic development is not a statutory function of local authorities in England, and we have to ask ourselves ‘why is that?’ Part of the reason is that there is a long lead-in time with economic development initiatives before you see any visible outcomes.
“It’s also a ‘broad church’ – there are lots of functions in economic development – so the sector needs to define itself and reinforce the value it adds.”
Devolution is one high-profile issue that the profession can use to increase its reputation, Mark explained: “We need strong economic development professionals to ensure the successful delivery of this agenda.
“To do that there is an opportunity to introduce more rigorous professional and quality standards in the economic development profession. However, we also need to make the case for why devolution can also help deliver upon the need to rebalancing the economy. Yet this issue was hardly referred to at all in election manifestos. Going forward we must present a strong, single voice to make sure that we have the powers and tools needed to deliver on these agendas.”
He added: “We must not lose the focus on rebalancing the economy and devolution – we have to hold government to account on these agendas and make sure they don’t forget about them.
“To do that, we may explore our role and relationships with other professional bodies around giving a cohesive voice. There is an opportunity for collaboration and alignment on big issues, and ensure that ultimately we are effectively representing our members externally.
“For the IED I bring a voice from a different part of the sector, and a different geography, but also insight on specific challenges which can be shared with our members. For example, whilst the national focus may be on big transport issues such as HS2, we are also doing a lot of work around inter-connectivity in our region to help people do business.
“I’m excited about my role with the IED. Overall, we have a growing membership base and the organisations and individuals we represent have a critical part to play in the UK’s economic growth locally, nationally and internationally. That makes us a body worth listening to and being consulted on.”