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Bay powerhouse builds on economic strength

10 June 2019

A drive to create a new, nationally significant and sustainable economy around Morecambe Bay which would be an integral part of the Northern Powerhouse is gaining momentum.

The creation of the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region sees Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland councils working together to build on their collective strengths to “Drive Growth Together”.

The partnership’s Business Prospectus, which has been created to promote the innovative scheme and act as a catalyst for future joint work, will be launched in Lancaster on 14 June, with the three authorities involved renewing their commitment to the scheme.

Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth minister Jake Berry MP backed the project after the signing of a Statement of Intent between Barrow Borough Council, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council in November 2017.

The three councils agree that working together will build on their collective strengths in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, digital technologies, life sciences, health innovation, higher education and the visitor economy, and could create a nationally and internationally significant economy by encouraging public and private sector investment, building aspiration and growing local skills to create opportunities which deliver improved productivity, prosperity and inclusive growth for the Northern Powerhouse.

With Barrow, Lancaster and South Lakeland all increasing their GVA from the previous year in 2017, the wider Morecambe Bay economic area is the sixth best performing in the North West, and growing, with a combined GVA of £7.074 billion, a rise of £257 million.

The area has the third-fastest growing economy in the UK and it is the fastest growing coastal economy, with a nine per cent projected increase in population and jobs.

Council bosses say the three council areas represent a “rural, world-class functioning economic area” and much of the proposed work builds on co-operation which is already under way.

With two international gateway ports at Barrow and Heysham, which also act as hubs for operations and maintenance of the world’s largest windfarm off Walney and the East Irish Sea gas fields, and world-leading advanced manufacturing firms, the Lancaster and South Cumbria area benefits from sustained high employment levels, a highly-talented workforce, a thriving workforce, and a growing, innovative economy with 65.5 per cent of all manufacturers exporting.

The area has world-class, pioneering businesses in electronics, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, subsea equipment, defence, financial services, technical consultancy and training.

Learning and development are also identified as a key driver, with Lancaster University having one of only two management schools in the country to have achieved a six-star rating, complemented by Kendal, Furness, Lancaster and Morecambe colleges and the University of Cumbria, who work closely with national and international employers.

Exciting strategic growth projects around the bay include the Eden Project North in Morecambe, Marina Village in Barrow-in-Furness, Scroggs Wood in Kendal, and the recently-opened Steamboat Museum on the lake at Windermere.

The Lake District, the UK’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracts an estimated 19 million tourists each year and generates almost £1.5bn for the local economy.

The prospectus also highlights the area as being a beautiful and safe place to live, encompassing the Lake District and the many protected coastal attractions of Morecambe Bay, with city-like benefits of good national transport links, leading universities, world-class restaurants and theatres, all with the bonus of having the room for thriving businesses to grow.

The launch is being held at Lancaster University Management School between 9.30am and 11.30am on 14 June.

It is free to book your place at the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region prospectus launch

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