Cumbria is on the cusp of its “most important decade” but businesses must seize the opportunities on offer.
That was the message from Sean Balmer, chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC), addressing its annual general meeting at Energus, Lillyhall, Workington.
He told the 130-strong audience: “Last year I said we were well-placed to take advantage of investments in the energy sector and infrastructure, and I still think that is the case.
“But I’d have hoped the pace of change would have been greater. I think we are now looking at possibly our most important decade ahead.”
Alluding to nuclear new build at Sellafield, and other major projects such as expansion at BAE Systems in Barrow, he added: “The scale of proposed investment is huge.
“It is down to us, the businesses and organisations already here, to ensure that these investments have the most positive impact and greatest legacy for the area.”
Mr Balmer reflected on another solid year for BECBC, which now has 240 member companies.
Treasurer, Alison Johnston emphasised the not-for-profit nature of the organisation. No elections of new board members were required but Mr Balmer was re-appointed as a director. He presented honorary life memberships to Derek Jenkinson, of Jenkinson Partnership, and Penny Lees, of Total PR, both founder members involved throughout BECBC’s ten years.
Mr Jenkinson said: “A lot has changed since BECBC was established in 2004.
“BECBC is playing a vital role in advocacy for member businesses, supply chain communications and the creation of successful partnerships, all aimed at creating prosperity for west Cumbria.”
The guest speakers were Neil Baldwin, former managing director of Magnox and former chairman of the National Skills Academy Nuclear, and Robert Astall, commercial director of Sellafield Ltd.
Mr Astall focused on Sellafield’s site strategy, especially procurement and interactions with small and medium-sized businesses.
He said: “Smaller players in our supply chain are vital if we’re to bring in fresh ideas, flexible approaches and learn from developments elsewhere and in other sectors.”
The next BECBC meeting is at Energus at 9am on May 6. Details at www.becbusinesscluster.co.uk.