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Cumbria: Aligning Stars or Dangerous Complacency?

I was in a conversation the other day where someone said “It really feels like the stars are aligning for Cumbria doesn’t it?” and it got me thinking…….we were talking about the funding announcement for the Rolls Royce SMR’s and had also referred to the recent STEP shortlisting. People in Cumbria are talking a lot about the nuclear and engineering expertise we have in the area, our history doing “First of a Kind” projects and our ability as an area to contribute to the Government’s “Levelling Up” agenda. Matching these up to the new focus on nuclear as a solution to climate change seems obvious…..if you live or work in Cumbria. But what if you don’t?

As an area are we assuming that what seems obvious to us is obvious to everyone else too? Are we falling into dangerous complacency? I had a conversation recently with a lovely comms lead from a BECBC member (you know who you are!) who commented that Cumbria has a fantastic story to tell but doesn’t seem to be telling it nationally. She was asking what they, as a company, could do to support the area and she’s not the only member company to ask that question. It’s one of the things I love about our members-that willingness to do the right thing and be proactive.

Major decisions on investment are being made nationally at a point where Cumbria is undergoing Local Government Review and our public sector is caught up in a time and energy consuming process which is planned to give us a devolution deal and the type of decision making and funding Tees Valley are currently benefitting from under Ben Houchen’s leadership. Even if that wasn’t the case should we be relying purely on the public sector to shout for Cumbria?

There’s a huge amount of academic research that says solutions developed across public, private and third (not-for-profit) sector are the ones that are most successful. It makes sense doesn’t it? There’s a diverse team straight off!

This is the reason why Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster helped to create the Invest in Cumbria Alliance. Bringing together the political leaders from MP’s and councils with business and charitable sector organisations to show investors what Cumbria has to offer and help them deliver the greatest possible social value from their investment the IiCA is determined to show what a great place Cumbria is for investment and provide a quality commercial, but not-for-profit, service to investors. Both Rolls Royce-SMR and EDF have already signed up to the IiCA charter-you can see Tom Samson signing the Charter with Hazel Blears, who is part of the IiCA team, in the image for this blog. Created to benefit all parties it also has the opportunity to show that Cumbria can lead the way in more than engineering and nuclear. The opportunity to show what a Confident Cumbria can achieve working with inward investors.

So why am I writing this? If we go back to the conversation about the amazing story Cumbria has to tell I’m asking you to help tell that story. Talk about the wonderful things Cumbria has to offer. The quality of life……the scenery……the amazing businesses…..the low house prices……the three Universities with all their academic expertise…..the people who make Cumbria what it is. Talk about IiCA. Let’s get out there and market the proverbial out of this area because it’s worth it.

Oh and if anyone can come up with a great hashtag as part of that do let me know………..

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