We sometimes forget that Herefordshire has many world-class distinctions. We are the home of one of the world’s most prized breeds of cattle; renowned for our soft fruits, potatoes, and the world’s longest asparagus growing season; and nobody doubts the world- class (delete) skills, courage and bravery of the special forces based here (as good as they are because, well, they’re trained in Herefordshire!). But you may not be as aware that we also have a growing group of world-class engineering and specialist manufacturing companies serving the defence, environmental, transportation, and food industries.
On a day-to-day basis, most of us also benefit from the county’s other world–class distinctions – breathtaking countryside, a deep sense of community, and an amazing history.
But there’s a growing sense that we are in grave danger of our county failing to keep up with a globally competitive 21st century marketplace, a marketplace that will allow us to continue to enjoy these gifts and in which we have every right to proudly boast of our world-class products and services.
Three years ago, a small group of individuals began to look at one of Herefordshire’s greatest challenges – how do we attract and retain the vital young talent that Herefordshire needs in order to thrive into the future? How do we increase vibrancy, improve wages, enhance opportunities? How do we support the growth of our current world-class businesses and foster the development of more of them?
Throughout the centuries, communities with similar needs have found their answers to these challenges through the creation of globally-recognised centres of learning – universities that not only attract young people, but also serve as transformers of their communities. Over the next several months, I hope you will join me to speak more about our future – one that will include a new university in Herefordshire.
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