Lancashire urged to shout about its successes

Lancashire, and businesses across the county, need to shout louder about their success.

[caption id="attachment_24628" align="f-align-medium-right f-align-center" width="300"]Phil Halsall with Downtown's Frank McKenna Phil Halsall with Downtown's Frank McKenna[/caption]

That was the message from Phil Halsall when he addressed members of leading networking group Downtown Lancashire in Business.

The chief executive of Lancashire County Council said the county was too modest and needed to spread the word about its strength as a hub for ideas and innovation, rather than being overshadowed by its neighbours in Liverpool and Manchester.

Speaking at the West Lancashire Investment Centre in Skelmersdale, he said: “We are too honest and only celebrate our success after we have achieved it, rather than shouting about our plans and ideas right from the start.

“We need to get across the message that Lancashire is a great place to do business and that we have many successful businesses here that are thriving. In the past ten years Preston has successfully created 30,000 jobs private sector jobs in the city – this makes it one of the top performing cities in the country, but this is a well hidden fact.”

He highlighted BAE Systems and the county’s position as the UK’s largest aircraft manufacturer as one example of its success, pointing out that more than 100,000 people were employed in manufacturing across Lancashire.

But he stressed the need to maintain the momentum. He said: “The Labour administration is very business friendly and our new leader, Jennifer Mein, has promised to prioritise business as part of her portfolio. She understands the needs of the private sector of the importance of supporting businesses to achieve their growth ambitions.”

The fact that Lancashire is leading the way with superfast broadband provision is another bonus for businesses. The county is on schedule to deliver this service to 97 per cent of the population by the end of 2014/early 2015, well ahead of government targets.

This service will be enhanced by Leyland-based Superfast Lancashire, due to open this month, which will support businesses through the transition to ensure they gain maximum benefit.

Halsall pointed out that the two new enterprise zones, based at BAE Systems’ sites in Samlesbury and Warton, had already attracted interest from 15 companies, four of which are in the final stages of negotiations, proving that Lancashire is attracting leading names.

He said: “Promoting the county as a great place to do business is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to shout about what we’re doing, about our ideas and our successes. “We already have a workforce with great skills; they’re the lifeblood of the county and we want to keep them here. But we also want to provide opportunities for the next generation to ensure we keep those skills in Lancashire and continue to thrive.”