Business leader, Kim Conchie believes a united approach will help Cornwall overcome its challenges.
In April, the Government awarded Cornwall a total of £132m from the Shared Prosperity Fund over the next three years – significantly less than the £700m over seven years Cornwall Council had originally bid for.
The SPF funding Cornwall will receive falls short of expectations, given the Prime Minister’s promise in October to ensure the region would receive the same level of funding it would have done had the country remained in the EU.
Chief Executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Kim Conchie believes Cornwall is facing a “difficult few years ahead.” He comments: “Cornwall’s businesses have weathered the storm of the pandemic but we now face a new set of challenges: energy prices, interest rates and supply costs are rising, labour is short, loans need repaying, and Covid-19 government support has ended.
“One of the biggest challenges however is the fact we have to do all this recovery without the funding we have been so used to receiving. We need to come at things with a different approach and take a fresh look at strategies for securing growth in The Duchy. I think collaboration is the key to Cornwall’s future.”
This week, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce will hold its first live Business Fair in two years, supported by Wildanet, Coodes and Falmouth University. Kim believes this event will be the catalyst to many of Cornwall’s business people starting to leave the office to have meetings in person, rather than online – something he considers crucially important to Cornwall’s future productivity.
He comments: “For those working remotely it’s so easy to slip into a routine of getting up and sitting at the computer, and for many, getting back out on the networking scene is a daunting prospect. I would really love to see as many people as possible break with routine and attend Cornwall Business Fair on Wednesday; those eureka moments Cornwall so desperately needs just don’t come from talking to someone via Zoom or on the phone.
“For Cornwall to flourish and rise above the challenges it faces, we need conversations that lead to collaboration. I’ve seen it so many times – business people who seemingly have nothing in common get put together at a networking breakfast and suddenly they’re asking me how best to progress a business idea they’ve had. That’s the kind of magic we need, right there.”
Cornwall Business Fair takes place at Falmouth University’s Penryn Campus on Wednesday 15th June as part of the Cornwall Festival of Business (13th-17thJune). The event is themed around growth opportunities in Cornwall. Kim adds: “There are a number of sectors that would create their own Levelling Up effect for Cornwall – like Floating Offshore Wind, onshore wind, solar, geothermal, and lithium mining for electric batteries. The Business Fair is a great place to get lots of important conversations started.”
Festival events run every day throughout Cornwall and further details can all be found at www.cornwallchamber.co.uk/events.