The Coastal West Sussex Partnership has launched a three-stage programme of workshops to define an economic narrative for the area, aiming to support the future development of a sustainable economic strategy to benefit all.

Hosted by regenerative place designer Jenny Andersson, founder of The Really Regenerative Centre CIC, the Partnership has held two workshops so far to understand  what has shaped the economy in coastal West Sussex over the years and determine what kind of economy we want to grow in the future.

The desire to create an economic narrative comes after the Partnership meeting that looked at a data report last autumn which explored the critical challenges and opportunities across the coastal West Sussex area. This report highlighted the low skills economy plus some of the infrastructure and intergenerational challenges, but also illustrated signs of relatively strong growth, particularly in Worthing, alongside new growth in some business clusters such as med tech, creative and digital technologies, horticulture and viticulture, while also highlighting greater opportunities associated with land and ocean regeneration and pockets of resilience in our tourism and visitor economy.

Our board recognised the need for a clear vision and narrative that could support sustainable growth, where businesses could contribute more effectively to drive that vision forward.

Led by Jenny and our director Caroline Wood, the first two workshops invited partners to help define the key values and pillars on which to base the narrative to support our future economy.

The overall theme for the narrative was defined as an economy for life: our business ecosystem shares two important commitments: a high quality of wellbeing for the people who work and live here, and a commitment to future-fit excellence.

The seven pillars that we initially worked with included:    

  • Sustainable business evolution: What characterises our economy is steady, reliable, consistent, innovative and sustainable growth – and excellence.
  • A blue and green economy: Coastal West Sussex is home to a multitude of disruptive innovators in agriculture, viticulture, land management, and on the seabed off our coastline.
  • Niche pioneering clusters:  As our economy has responded to the innovation challenges demanded of it, a set of new industry sectors have emerged in the region which give rise to a prosperous and creative future here.
  • Collaborative and interconnected: We collaborate most effectively across challenges that affect our whole region, and the sectors that we need to grow.
  • Adaptive resilience: Businesses and local authorities are responding thoughtfully and actively to global challenges – we are rapidly advancing digital connectivity and aiming for a net-zero economy.
  • Long term thinking: Coastal West Sussex is a place for businesses who want to contribute to the future thrivability of life in this region.
  • Living well: In this region we value living well and creating genuine wealth/richness/prosperity.

In our second workshop we broke into groups to discuss these pillars in more detail and provided feedback to refine the narrative and add in any missing elements. Some suggestions included making creativity and innovation stronger and highlighting the importance of diversity in the narrative.

The third and final session on Tuesday 6th June will explore what actions need to be taken to make this vision for our future economy a reality.

We look forward to another lively and productive session with our board members and will share the outcomes here on our website and in our next e-newsletter.

Read more about the report which inspired the need for a strategic narrative on our future economy here.