Debate: Shouting out for the Red Rose

Lancashire Day was celebrated in style across the county and the globe. We teamed up with our Lancashire Business Day partner Marketing Lancashire and an invited panel of patrons and sponsors to talk about what makes our county a great place to do business and how it can share its story with the world. Historic Samlesbury Hall was our setting for the discussion.

PRESENT: Richard Slater ~ Lancashire Business View (Chair) • Mark Bradley ~ Beever and Struthers Accountants • Ruth Connor ~ Marketing Lancashire • Keith Pressler ~ Mattioli Woods • Jonathan Shaw ~ Anderton Gables • Claire Shore ~ Blackburn College • Peter Street ~ Cardboard Box Company

Lancashire Business Day roundtable

What is attracting businesses to invest and employ in the county?

Ruth Connor: There’s a sense that the conditions are right, that the county is open for business and there is support for business growth. It is also about the talent that is here and the quality of life is a big thing.

We are very open in terms of what we’ve got to offer.

Claire Shore: In terms of skills the supply side is both strong and diverse. Higher and further education and the strength of independent training providers gives businesses a breadth of opportunity and employees the progression paths they need.

The value of education at primary and secondary level is of equal, if not greater, importance when families are choosing to invest in Lancashire.

Promoting the collective offer is one of the things we can work on together.

Mark Bradley: It’s about making sure businesses have the infrastructure around them that enables them to deliver, whether that is manufacturing or services. In the SME sector businesses want local advisors.

Lancashire’s property is also a cheaper alternative to other locations. The message Marketing Lancashire promotes about buying in Lancashire if you can has a very friendly feel.

We talk to new businesses and clients and they very much want to work with people in Lancashire and grow Lancashire. They’ve got that love of the county.

Peter Street: When you look at the North, we invented canals, trains; atomic energy in Preston, computers in Manchester.

Lancashire and Blackburn was the silicon valley for textiles a couple of hundred years ago. There was nowhere else in the world like it. We keep quiet about it. We don’t say what we’ve done and what we are doing, do we?

Ruth Connor: There has been a real step change in terms of Lancashire being recognised and that’s because we can stand shoulder to shoulder with the city regions.

We’ve got this renewed confidence and renewed ambition and a lot of that is because of the business community.

Jonathan Shaw: We’ve got a huge opportunity. If you look across Lancashire, everyone is accessible. They’ll meet you; they’ll have a brew with you.

Our brand, everything we do, shouts what we believe we are: down to earth, approachable. We peddle that across Manchester. We’ve just opened an office in Yorkshire and all of this is about us being approachable.

Peter Street: The people here are outstanding. We had a major breakdown yesterday and four of our people worked on it all night. When I’m asked how many people I employ I say ‘I don’t employ any people, I’ve got 80 families to look after’.

Keith Pressler: We’ve got a can-do attitude. No matter what’s going on we can do it, we can get on. We keep evolving and moving with the times and that’s the strength we have in Lancashire. We just knuckle down and move on.

Ruth Connor: We’ve started to create this drumbeat in terms of our strengths, our ambition, our confidence; having a great business community and great people. It’s about showcasing that we are a trading nation in our own right. If you think how many countries our businesses trade with, we want people outside to go ‘Wow, I didn’t know that’. We’ve got to go to the market internationally.
  • For the full debate, see the January/February edition of Lancashire Business View.