The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has named Sarah Dance as its new Deputy Chair. First set up in 2011, LEPs are intended to bring local authorities and businesses together to determine local economic priorities for encouraging growth in their target area. SELEP covers East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Sarah is to be a key voice for the LEP dealing with investment and business growth in the area. 

Sarah brings valuable experience and extensive networks to the LEP and has a strong track record of delivering projects and investment into the area. She is the current co-Chair of SELEP’s South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN) and has sat on SELEP’s Federated Board for Kent and Medway – the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP). 

Sarah has a great understanding of the needs of businesses and how to build funding packages and programmes to support them. She has previously led or raised funding for several partnership projects, including the South East Cultural Consortium, Screen South’s Pinewood Studio Network and Accentuate, the Legacy Trust’s Olympic & Paralympic cultural project for the South East.

She currently runs her own consultancy in Kent working with a wide range of cultural and creative industry businesses. She is overseeing England’s Creative Coast – a landmark arts and tourism project for the South East – and has been on the board of several arts organisations and has led the work on the ambitions for Thames Estuary Production Corridor.

At the end of 2019, SELEP began its search for a Deputy Chair, encouraging business leaders with a strong connection to the SELEP area to apply. Applicants needed to demonstrate a proven track record of driving strategic change as well as leading large, complex projects in the private sector. Sarah will sit in the role for two years, at which time her term can be extended for two further years, subject to a review and agreement by the SELEP’s board.

In her new role, Sarah will act as an ambassador and champion for SELEP projects and programmes. Alongside SELEP Chair Christian Brodie, she will help to develop and maintain relationships with SELEP’s business partners, neighbouring LEPs and other stakeholders. This includes Government ministers, local MPs, local authority leaders and key players in the Further Education and Higher Education fields.

On taking the role, Sarah said “This is an exciting new challenge for me, one I am very much looking forward to embracing. The South East is a thriving hub for business, with a real entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a region with huge potential to flourish for generations to come. With key developments for the area on the horizon – such as the Lower Thames Crossing and the Thames Estuary Production Corridor – I hope that I can bring a fresh perspective to help ensure these projects will benefit local communities and boost the South East’s long-term sustainability.

“I am particularly looking forward to working alongside Christian to position SELEP as a frontrunner amongst LEPs in terms of diversity, and to ensure that we are being held to the highest levels of scrutiny by fostering an environment of true transparency. Dealing with public funding means we must be held fully accountable, and I am confident that Christian and I – alongside our fellow Board members and the LEP’s Federated Boards – will keep SELEP’s standards impeccably high.”

To find out more about SELEP, visit their website at

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