Trade minister visits Blackburn's Hive business network

TRADE Minister Lord Green visited Blackburn with Darwen yesterday and told the borough’s Hive network it was ‘an outstanding example’ of companies working together which the government wanted replicated nationwide.

He told businesses gathered at Graham and Brown’s Stanley Street headquarters he was bowled over by their “energy, enthusiasm and creativity”.

As he left, Lord Green said: “I shall be working with Hive to promote businesses in Blackburn with Darwen and help them boost their exports.”

hive_8950He was guest of honour at the network of borough business leaders’ second event which chairman Khalid Saifullah, director of Star Tissue UK, described as a feather in the six-month old organisation’s cap.

Khalid outlined Hive’s aim of making Blackburn “a world-class town” building on its manufacturing heritage, young and ethnically diverse workforce and creative and innovative business community.

Graham and Brown chief executive Andrew Graham and Lucite International materials general manager Rowena Sellens gave presentations on how their companies built on their Blackburn and Darwen history to produce products exported world-wide.

Former HSBC Bank boss Lord Green, exports minister in both the Business Department and Foreign Office, addressed the company bosses before taking questions with Blackburn MP Jack Straw.

He said: “I am delighted to be in Blackburn with Darwen to address the Hive network. It is an outstanding example of just what we need. Hats off to Hive and its energy and creativity.

[quote-feature align="left"]"As a government we want to promote businesses working together, helping each other and sharing expertise, especially in terms of small and medium-sized enterprises breaking into new export markets."[/quote-feature]

"You are an example to the rest of the country. There is nothing I have seen going round Britain better than this."

Lord Green praised the way larger, export-led companies like Graham and Brown and Lucite were helping smaller companies into the export market through Hive. He said overseas trade was the way out of the current economic difficulties, capitalising on Britain’s world-class reputation for quality.

He was tackled by East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms and by Peter Street, boss of the Cardboard Box Company in Clayton-le-Moors, on the need for larger, and more reliable capital tax reliefs for investment. He replied that he felt the current company tax regime was the best it had ever been.

Lord Green said: “Hive is one of the best examples of businesses working together I have ever seen. I came to Blackburn with Darwen at Jack Straw’s invitation to show that the borough, East Lancashire and manufacturing are important to the government. I intend to work with Hive in future to promote the area and its products worldwide.”

[quote-block][quote-content]“I was delighted that Lord Green came. This is the beginning of a relationship. I shall make sure of that.”[/quote-content]

[quote-author]Jack Straw[/quote-author][/quote-block]

Mike Damms added: “This was an important visit. We intend to work with Lord Green to promote local businesses and exports in the future.”

Richard Slater, publisher of Lancashire Business View magazine and chair for the meeting, said: "The government has a bold ambition to create 100,000 new export businesses over the next few years. "Jack Straw and Lord Green were united in their determination for Lancashire to be at the heart of this SME revolution."

By Bill Jacobs, Lancashire Telegraph

See the original story and a video from the event on Lancashire Telegraph's website here.