Top economist backs Cornwall’s recipe for 21st century business success
The chief economist of one of the UK’s top banks today (Friday 25th May) gave his personal backing to a strategy designed to make Cornwall the place to do business in the 21st century.
Dennis Turner of HSBC was addressing a meeting at the Penventon Hotel in Redruth of 150 of the bank’s Cornish customers and other members of the business community.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – designated as an Objective One region by Europe – is to receive £300 million in aid to tackle the historic economic problems that have left it as one of the poorer areas in the EC.
Now, the Business Task Force set up through the Objective One programme has developed, with the support of BT, a strategy to transform Cornwall and Scilly into a model for sustainable prosperity. The strategy has been produced after wide consultation by the task force – which represents key business organisations in Cornwall including the Federation of Small Business – to see what local firms want.
HSBC chief economist Dennis Turner said: “This document makes a major contribution. It reflects the step-change needed to drive Cornwall’s business sector forward and create a flourishing, forward-thinking and sustainable economy for the future.”
The strategy has also won plaudits from figures within Cornwall’s private sector for its bold and refreshingly business-orientated approach. Speaking on behalf of both the CBI and construction firm Midas, Steve Hindley said it is vital that the private sector is actively involved in advancing its own project and said the strategy is “very supportive”.
The new strategy – developed following input from firms ranging from Cornish micro-businesses to a major international player – is designed to convince Cornwall’s business sector to “think big”, work together and emulate recent success stories like Eden.
Business Task Force chair Peter Hobson said: “We’ve already seen that thinking big can bring significant rewards. Projects like Eden and the Tate at St Ives have provided real knock-on benefits for other businesses in the surrounding community. Now, steps already taken to create Cornwall’s own university – helped by Objective One – and other projects underway like the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, show what can be achieved when people think big and work in partnership.”
The task force also wants to see resources focused on priority areas. Objective One’s deputy programme director Carleen Kelemen said: “The European money currently available is not unlimited. Precious resources should be focused on the projects and industries that will make the biggest and most sustainable contribution to the Cornish economy. Cornwall has huge potential and there is nowhere else in Britain that has its unique qualities. This plan will use the funding wisely so that there are sustainable benefits not just now but for decades to come.”
The strategy document sets out five “change programmes” that the task force believes hold the key to realistic and sustainable prosperity. Details of a series of practical steps to deliver these programmes will be set out in an Action Plan to be published within the next couple of months.
Mr Hobson said: “This strategy provides the framework for a culture change within businesses in Cornwall. The Business Task Force is the voice of business within the Objective One programme and we have taken great pains to listen to the views of the private sector. The strategy focuses on high-growth areas but there is something in it for all businesses – it gives them the mechanism for taking the opportunities that create success.”
He concluded: “The strategy is designed to encourage businesses to work in partnership, to think big and to focus on those areas of the economy with real potential. That’s how we can turn Cornwall into a hot-house of innovation and support for small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
Endorsement of Cornish private sector
Steve Hindley, chief executive of Midas Group, welcomed the strategy on behalf of both the construction firm and the CBI. He said: “The important issue from my perspective, having been involved in Objective Two and 5b, is that it’s essential that the private sector is involved in actively advancing its own projects. We as a company are involved Objective One projects both here in Cornwall and in South Wales. This strategy is very supportive and shows how business can engage.”
Ingrid Hestletine, managing director of consultants De Facto, said the strategy had great potential. “When I read it I found it hugely refreshing, very business orientated and coming from a point of view that clearly understands how business grows and develops, and what stops them doing so. It’s been brave enough to focus on sectors and it’s got some very bold and proactive ideas on how to hot-house indigenous talent and attract high-calibre business investors.”
Tim Jones, chairman of Devon & Cornwall Business Council, said: “We have been waiting for some positive direction and a better interface between the public and private sectors to achieve the required spend under the Objective One programme. The business community very broadly welcomes the strategy that’s now being launched and that we believe will achieve all the key aspirations of business within the region.”
Ian Pawley, managing partner of Westcountry law firm Stephens & Scown said: "This strategy is a big step forward. We need this kind of considered but bold approach in order to create the climate and attitude that will give business the opportunity to flourish. The private sector can earn respect and merit the success it deserves if it takes the opportunities on offer, and contributes to the bigger picture.
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The new strategy can be seen on the Objective One website – www.objectiveone.com – and copies downloaded.
The website has also been updated to include a new section giving details of grants and loans available direct to individual applicants from the various umbrella funds that have been developed through Objective One to support specific sectors.
Objective One Partnership Office
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