North Kesteven’s economy is dynamic and diverse. Small and micro business predominate with larger businesses and their supply chains operating and servicing key sectors.
Agri-food is North Kesteven’s biggest sector by employment and GDP. Perhaps unsurprising given its rural geography, over 90% its 100,000ha is devoted to agriculture, principally cereals and other arable crops with some fruit and vegetables. NK is also one of the largest poultry farming areas in the UK with over 6M chickens providing meat and eggs for a diverse processing sector. Food processing is still the districts biggest employer with significant international players like Pilgrim Foods (Moy Park and Tulip) Noble Foods, Sleaford Quality Foods and Branston Ltd all long-established but modernising to face the challenges of the global economy. Post Brexit, the sector is expected to continue to perform strongly with the ambitious UK Food Valley concept backed by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. The idea is to accelerate food chain automation and digitisation in order to deliver productivity growth and high value jobs, develop low carbon food chains from farm to fork and maximise the market potential of naturally healthy foods.
Manufacturing and Engineering are traditional strengths of the Greater Lincoln area with the LN6 business district famous for some of the biggest names like Siemens and Lincoln Precision Engineering while in Sleaford SHD Composites is a world leader in designing and developing products using newer technologies such as carbon fibre and other composite materials working across a variety of industries from aerospace to motorsport and the wider automotive sector.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its long association with the RAF (NK hosts three operational bases at RAF Cranwell, RAF Digby and RAF Waddington) Defence Industries play an important part in the growth and prosperity of the district with companies like Northrop Grumman, BAE, Inzpire and 3SDL creating innovative products and services with global applications across the defence sector, while highly skilled ex-RAF personnel often chose to stay in the area after serving.
Construction and development industries will play a key role in delivering on ambitious housing and infrastructure plans throughout the district. 15,000 new homes and 14,000 jobs plus ambitious regenerations plans for Sleaford town centre will require the skills and expertise of the range of professionals with local companies like Lindum Group and Smith’s Sports & Civils, helping to bring forward important housing, employment and regeneration projects.
Tourism plays an important role in any flourishing rural economy, supporting over 1000 full time equivalent jobs locally. North Kesteven received 1.5 million visitors during 2020, a total of £8.5 million was generated within the local economy through visitor and tourism expenditure. NKDC operate the heritage sites at Cogglesford Watermill, Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum, Navigation House and Mrs Smith’s Cottage, which reopened in August 2020 following a National Heritage Lottery funded restoration.