Where Next For East Lancashire?

shutterstock_5641843East Lancashire is an area blessed with great businesses and proud lively communities.

The businesses have strong roots in many directions: the world class advanced engineering specialisms driven by the BAE sites at Salmesbury and Warton; textile and engineering businesses born in the nineteenth century which have evolved and prospered; high value knowledge based businesses run by people who live in the Ribble Valley as they consider it the best place in the world to live; and businesses started from the local entrepreneurial community, including many from families recently arrived from Asia.

The vibrant local communities do not fit easily into local authority boundaries and the centres of the local towns have not adjusted to the changes in retail and leisure over the last 50 years, let alone the last 20.  Heroic efforts are being made to improve central districts, but the real sources of pride for the region are the people: their energy, their entrepreneurship, their international links and their businesses.

The future looks particularly bright for the advanced engineering sector, but manufacturing is strong across the region. There are also a lot of design and creative companies with massive potential.

The challenge for local leaders is to make it clear to potential business partners, investors and residents how great the area as a whole is, and what potential it has, without legacy issues such as town centres, fragmented local government and poor reputations distracting them.

The good news is that this challenge is being met, with improving links between the business world and government and a real focus on showcasing success, especially business success.

David Gorton – Senior Partner & Head of Corporate Services