Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bringing new prosperity through enterprise

A couple of months ago, I attended a night of entertainment organised by the Holman Climax Choir at Camborne School to celebrate the history of the iconic firm that played a huge role in shaping Camborne. The event was attended by over 300 people and included some fantastic old footage and photographs.

Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle we take a lot of pride in our heritage and history. But since the loss of mining and iconic firms like Holman Brothers in Camborne and J&F Pool in Hayle, this part of Cornwall has struggled to regain its footing. How can we get our local economy back on its feet?

There were initiatives as long ago the 80’s under the last Conservative Government to encourage businesses to locate here and create jobs. Some firms, like the US engineering firm Case, left again once the benefits that tempted them down expired.

But there were other success stories which have endured. Pall at Redruth is one of the firms that was attracted to Cornwall at that time and is still one of the largest employers in the area today and they have played an important role in helping us retain a strong skills base in precision engineering.

Building lasting prosperity depends on taking an international lead in new industries where our geographic location as a peninsula is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. For instance, when it comes to wave power, Cornwall is the place to be because we have a huge coastline, powerful waves and the engineering know-how to turn ideas into industry. And when it comes to the new creative industries like digital animation, distance is no longer a barrier. What matters is having the best talent in one place and high speed broadband connections to the rest of the world.

The building of the university at Tremough has been a significant step forward. The result has been some world leading academic work in marine energy and world leading courses in the creative industries. The hope has to be that the best talent in these new industries settles where it is being fostered.

The last decade has seen a focus on capital projects with the help of public funding. There are some important plans still taking shape, for instance the regeneration of Hayle Harbour, Wave Hub, the Heartlands project in Pool and the Redruth Action Plan.

But regeneration work can only be judged a genuine success once the conditions are right for private enterprise to take flight unsupported and bring real prosperity in its path. So we need more people to have a go and set up their own businesses. Ten years ago, the challenge was to get young people into university. As a result of the latest recession, the challenge now is getting them from university in to work. Many will decide to set up on their own and build a business. I hope they do and wish them luck.