A FORMER member of Gordon Brown’s government believes there has never been a better time to start a business in Cumbria.
Lord Digby Jones was guest speaker at the opening of a new centre to support rural businesses at the Ambleside campus of the University of Cumbria this week.
The Rural Growth Hub comprises of two buildings – The Beehive and Low Nook – which have been fully refurbished as part of a major redevelopment project at the campus.
A range of resources and business support packages are available including free wi-fi, super-fast broadband connectivity, a virtual reception, access to office space, hot-desking and high quality workshop facilities.
“This will give you a feeling of belonging to a common purpose,” said Lord Jones, a former trade minister and past Director General of the Confederation of Business Industry.
“My main message is that you matter now more than you have ever mattered.
“There’s never been a better time to set up a business in Cumbria and the growth hub is here to fill in the gaps.”
He continued: “The economic recovery is here to stay and Cumbria is taking its proper place in that.
“The university has put its money where its mouth is and the penny has dropped here.”
A panel of prominent Cumbrian figures later led a debate on challenges faced by rural businesses as part of the official launch.
Lord Jones was joined by South Lakes MP Tim Farron; Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce; Richard Leafe, chief executive of Lake District National Park Authority and Professor Sandra Jowett, deputy vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria.
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Professor Jowett said the launch was part of an ‘exciting entrepreneurial culture in the Lake District.’ “The objective of the facility is to provide a source of support to students, graduates, fledgling enterprises and small businesses, and to ensure they have the proper resources in place to succeed.
“The University of Cumbria is committed to supporting the county’s social and economic regeneration and we are confident the Rural Growth Hub will play a significant role in helping the Cumbrian economy to flourish.”
Mr Farron said: “There’s still much to be done to ensure that economic growth in rural areas is seen as equally important by decision makers to growth in our cities, and it was great to share ideas about how we can make that a reality.”
The Rural Growth Hub is part of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s Rural Growth Network pilot and is the first of six to open across the county.
View a video of the launch created by the university at: www.cumbria.ac.uk/AboutUs/Enterprise/RuralGrowthHubAmbleside.aspx.