Lancashire Shines As Minister Praises County’s United Approach
Lancashire LEP becomes first official Northern Powerhouse LEP partner as part of showcase ‘We Are Lancashire’ launch event
The Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy MP, yesterday praised how Lancashire’s business leaders, politicians and partners have united together to drive economic growth and inward investment.
Speaking at a special Lancashire Enterprise Partnership conference at Burnley Football Club, attended by over 200 Lancashire business leaders and stakeholders, the Minister was joined by Councillor Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and Chair of the shadow Lancashire Combined Authority, Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire LEP, and Ruth Connor, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire.
In a passionate opening address Ms Connor described how Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership had spent the last 12 months getting hundreds of local businesses and entrepreneurs to share what they thought Lancashire’s key strengths and assets were and how these had been distilled down into a succinct but powerful inward investment narrative for the whole county for the first time.
She also introduced a new promotional film to support the new #wearelancashire campaign which captured the county’s unique character and key selling points– available here – which was very warmly received by the conference delegates and dignitaries present.
Edwin Booth then spoke of how Lancashire was rapidly emerging as a genuine economic force within the Northern Powerhouse and explained how the county had the opportunity to maximise its capacity within key sectors, including aerospace, advanced manufacturing and energy, on a global scale.
Councillor Simon Blackburn also spoke, and expanded more on the progress of Lancashire’s combined authority and highlighted that there was a genuine appetite for unity across all authorities and boroughs, and indicated that Lancashire could be home to the UK’s first elected county-mayor.
Andrew Percy’s address to conference began with some light-hearted observations about being a Yorkshireman hearing about so much Lancashire success and ambition.
This was followed by Mr Percy reaffirming Lancashire’s position at the very heart of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, and that foreign investment and job creation across the whole of the North was growing substantiality. He also said he would ensure Lancashire’s voice would be clearly heard in Westminster to support the government’s vision for a thriving Northern Powerhouse which remains a key priority.
As part of the conference Mr Percy invited the Lancashire LEP to sign-up as the first Enterprise Partnership to become an official Northern Powerhouse Partnership. By signing-up, the Lancashire LEP joined a diverse range of companies and organisations who have all formally committed to work with government to help the North achieve its full economic potential.
After the conference – hailed by many present as ‘just what Lancashire needed’, ‘something to be really proud of’ and ‘the start of something big’ – the Minister undertook a county-wide tour which took in several key Lancashire economic locations.
These included Burnley’s Innovation Drive, where the Minister performed an official ribbon-cutting before taking a tour of the advanced manufacturing company BCW Engineering based there.
He then proceeded to Blackpool, where he visited the site of Blackpool’s Energy HQ at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, before travelling to UCLan in Preston where he met with students and academics who have worked on a number of hi-tech engineering projects.
At UCLan the Minister also was asked to cut the first turf on the site of UCLan’s new £30 million Engineering and Innovation Centre.
Ruth Connor, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “We wanted to show to the Minister that Lancashire was geared up to do business with both government and the rest of the world, and that by working together we have both the will, the means and the appetite to become a major economic force in the North.
“At every stage of the Minister’s visit this spirit of unity and pride clearly came across, and from Burnley to Blackpool everyone involved worked together for the greater good of the county.”
“We now need to push on from this and we’ll be encouraging all Lancashire businesses and stakeholders to embrace the new Lancashire narrative and become proud ambassadors for the county, regionally, nationally and globally; reinforcing the work that we, the LEP and all our partners have undertaken to get us to this key point in driving further growth and prosperity for the county.”