Blackburn looks to further growth

Blackburn with Darwen’s director of growth and development Martin Kelly has revealed the borough’s vision to deliver more job creating opportunities.

They include developing the Haslingden Road Corridor, which he said could create 10,000 new jobs “with the right enabling infrastructure”.

He said Blackburn was looking to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from the neighbouring Samlesbury Enterprise Zone.

And he also highlighted the housing growth taking place across the area and spoke of the need to free more land for employment opportunities.

Martin spent nine years as director of economic development and planning at Lancashire County Council, and was chief operating officer of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership before taking on the Blackburn role.

He was a member of a panel discussion looking at the challenges and opportunities for Blackburn with Darwen, which took place at the launch of the latest edition of Lancashire Business View.

More than 70 people attended the event at the Blues Bar at Ewood Park, which was sponsored by Blackburn College and Pierce Chartered Accountants.

Blackburn with Darwen has been one of the strongest performing places in the whole of the North

As well as Martin, the panel was made up of Claire Shore, senior business development manager at Blackburn College; Lisa Kennery, director at Pierce; Ian Liddle, managing partner at Farleys Solicitors and Ram Gupta, managing director at Nybble.

They discussed a range of topics including how to address the skills challenge facing businesses across Blackburn with Darwen.

The audience heard that in terms of growth the borough has been outperforming the major cities of the North, apart from Manchester.

Martin said: “In the last few years Blackburn with Darwen has been one of the strongest performing places in the whole of the North of England. We are not very good at telling the world about it.”

The event also heard from Caitlin Percy, senior technology officer at BAE Systems.

She revealed that the defence giant is looking to reach out to more companies in its search for greater collaboration.

The group’s Warton hosted a Future Technologies Exhibition which will look at themes including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, simulation and data analytics.

The aim of the event was to demonstrate the company’s ability to collaborate with SMEs and tech-led companies from concepts through to design, manufacture, training and support.

Caitlin also spoke of the need to deliver major defence projects with more speed and less cost.

She said: “In order to stay competitive as a UK industry we have really got to be investing in the technologies, the process and the skills.”

Caitlin also highlighted areas of collaboration already taking place, including BAE System’s joint work with F1 expert Williams.

At this event, we were also joined by the following speakers:

  • Chris Durham, commercial director at Ronset
  • Simon Chimejczuk, senior account manager at Unified World
  • Laurence O’Connor, managing director at Financial Affairs
  • Pritam Pal, senior project officer at Boost Business Lancashire
  • Sam Pegg, pre-sales and technical consultant at Holker IT
We have really got to be investing in the technologies, the process and the skills.

The latest edition of Lancashire Business View is out now. It includes an in-depth report on Blackburn with Darwen.