A NEW action plan designed to boost the economy of Cumbria will be presented to keynote speaker Lord Mandelson and delegates at the Cumbria Economic Summit 2009 on Friday (February 20).

The Cumbria Sub Regional Action Plan contains 20 priority regeneration projects that will either progress or be completed over the next three years, and in the long term could create more than 11,000 new jobs.

The Action Plan, along with the Cumbria Economic Strategy, has been produced by economic development agency Cumbria Vision and partner organisations in the public and private sector to set a clear direction for the County’s economic renaissance.

The documents will be presented to Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and around 250 delegates from public sector organisations and local, national and international businesses who will gather at Sellafield Visitor Centre for the summit. The Cumbria Economic Summit 2009 is being staged by Cumbria Vision and the Northwest Regional Development Agency to showcase achievements to date and outline plans for the future.

Roger Liddle, Chair of Cumbria Vision, said: “This is a tough time for business in Cumbria: there’s no hiding place from the impact of the most severe global recession since the Second World War. However, as a County we can weather storm better than many other places by concentrating our efforts on our unique strengths: using our skills in energy and nuclear to help the nation meet the looming challenges of energy security and climate change; and raising the quality of “Destination Cumbria” as a place to live, work, visit and invest.

“Our Action Plan focuses our efforts on projects that will advance those aims. From now on we need focus, drive and action. We need to take the emphasis away from strategy and plough ahead with delivery on the ground.”

The Sub Regional Action Plan aims to improve the economic performance by building on Cumbria’s two unique strengths – energy and “destination” – but recognises their full potential will only be realised with support from other sectors. These include education, skills and research; business, enterprise, and employment; investment in infrastructure and the rural economy.

Major regeneration projects contained within the Action Plan include the development of Carlisle Airport; Penrith New Squares; a new hospital for West Cumbria; nuclear new build at Sellafield; improvements around Lake Windermere; The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness residential and business development; and the new K Village premises in Kendal. This year will see the Energus skills and training facility open to students, a key project contained in the £2 billion Britain’s Energy Coast™ Masterplan for West Cumbria; while work will be completed on the Waterfront Business Park, part of the £200 million The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness development.

These regeneration projects for Cumbria will feature in a series of video showcases and presentations from high profile speakers focusing on those industry sectors of most importance to Cumbria’s economy. Speakers joining Lord Mandelson this year include Dr Ian Hudson, Sellafield Programme Manager, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; George Beveridge, Deputy Managing Director, Sellafield Ltd; Duncan Burt, Customer Services Manager – Transmission Commercial, National Grid; Simon Berry, Chairman and Managing Director of English Lakes Hotels Ltd; Beverley Blevans, Contact Centre Manager (Lillyhall) Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs; Dr Eunice Simmons, Dean of Science & Natural Resources, University of Cumbria; Cllr Tim Knowles, portfolio holder for Economy, Cumbria County Council; Andrew Tinkler, Chief Executive, Stobart Group; and Alistair Wannop, Dairy farmer and owner of Eden Golf Course.

There will also be speeches from Roger Liddle, Richard Greenwood, Chief Executive of Cumbria Vision, and Professor John Fyfe, international specialist in creating partnerships. Broadcaster Fiona Armstrong will compere the summit.

The Cumbria Economic Summit will also be an opportunity to hear about the main issues that are likely to be addressed by the Regional Strategy – the region’s first single integrated strategy which will bring together spatial, economic, social and environmental strategies to build a new long term vision for the prosperity of the North West region. It is currently being developed by the NWDA and 4NW, the Regional Leaders Forum, together with assistance from the Regional Strategy Advisory Group, which comprises of members of the public and representatives from the private, voluntary and community sectors.

Bryan Gray, Chairman of the Northwest Regional Development Agency, said: “While the economic downturn means Cumbria faces new challenges, these significant changes also present new opportunities. With unique strengths in energy and nuclear, Cumbria is in a strong position to continue to succeed in the global market. It’s clear that all of our partners in Cumbria have a shared vision and are determined to work together to ensure that the priorities we have identified become a reality.”

Cumbria Vision was established by the Northwest Regional Development Agency in 2005 to galvanise the public and private sector in Cumbria and create a single direction to the County’s significant regeneration agenda, which spans both urban and rural concerns.

Since then Cumbria Vision has helped to establish the University of Cumbria; completed the £40 million Rural Regeneration Cumbria programme to tackle the effects of the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak, and progressed the Britain’s Energy Coast™ Masterplan –a £2 billion package of regeneration projects that build on West Cumbria’s nuclear expertise to create a hub for renewable energy production to serve both local communities and the UK. Other projects which have received substantial support include plans by Stobart Air Ltd to revamp Carlisle Airport, and ambitious proposals to bring a prestigious leisure and commercial development to Derwent Forest, near Cockermouth – one of the largest brownfield sites available for development in the UK.