More than 100 Lancashire business representatives gathered to discuss the opportunities presented by the City Deal, which is set to boost the county economy by £1bn.
The Question Time-style panel event was hosted by Lancashire Business View in association with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Preston and South Ribble City Deal.
One of the LEP’s key projects, the City Deal has been described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime funding programme’, creating jobs and homes.
Funded by Central Government to the tune of £430m, City Deal’s aims to create 20,000 jobs, stimulate £1bn of new economic activity, develop 10 million sq ft of commercial space and build 17,000 new homes.
At the event at Bartle Hall, business and public sector leaders shared their vision and outlined what opportunities the City Deal will create in terms of skills, investment and collaboration.
Guest panellists at the event included Jim Carter, deputy chairman, Eric Wright Group, Anna Doran, general manager, Anglo Scottish Route, Virgin Trains, Stephen Gregson, corporate finance director, Moore And Smalley, Paul Kelly, owner, Tilemaster Adhesives, Julie Thornhill, general manager, Waitrose Distribution Centre and Dr John Lonsdale, director of innovation and enterprise, UCLan.
Jim Carter said: “The LEP has looked at what Lancashire has to offer when attracting investors in to the county. Our research found we have very friendly people, it’s a great place to live and you get great value for money.
“We’re starting the City Deal from a great position with great raw material. We’ve now got to go out and sell the idea and convince the rest of the country that Lancashire is a great place to be: the ripple effect of the City Deal will be huge.”
Anna Doran said: “There’s a warmth and friendliness in Lancashire and we’re amazingly located within the UK. You can be in Scotland or in London in around two hours. Why wouldn’t you live and do business here?
Stephen Gregson said: “It’s not simply about rallying people to work in Lancashire; it’s about dispersing out elsewhere. The education institutions that we have are a really important draw and there’s a really good offer here.”
The next Lancashire Hotspots events will take place in Burnley in April and West Lancashire in June.