Firm foundations


Peninsula Enterprise CEO Adam Chambers explains some of the changes on the horizon affecting the Business Link service

As many readers will know by now, the Business Link Convergence service, designed to help Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s most ambitious businesses fulfil their potential, is due to close at the end of this month.

With responsibility for delivering the service over the past two-and-a-half years, Peninsula Enterprise is confident its achievements have provided firm foundations for the future – both for the individual businesses it has supported and for local economies all around the county.

Working in tandem with other Cornish partners, the injection of advice, support and encouragement has helped no fewer than 1,495 Cornish businesses to grow their profits, expand their markets, add to their workforces and do more for their local communities.

So, with a raft of major changes underway to the business support landscape (not just in Cornwall but right across the UK), this feels like a good moment to outline some of the other new developments that are on the horizon.

These include a shake-up to the current Business Link service itself, which is expected to emerge in a new guise by the end of November. Government plans for the new service announced in January include a national website and contact centre, a national business start-up service, business coaching for growth, a national mentoring network and entrepreneurial support for women, black and other minority ethnic groups, and services personnel.

In our view at Peninsula Enterprise, these are all positive and constructive moves that reflect the new economic priorities of a country seeking to cut its spending deficit.

The same view applies to the current plans for Cornwall’s own emergent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which is to assume many of the responsibilities of the departing South West RDA with the declared intention of taking a “more business-focused approach to economic development and supporting the business community”.

Again, we welcome the idea of a locally focused business support service which is based on healthy partnerships that benefit everybody. It’s also very much a solution that Peninsula Enterprise can play a part in. For example, our people – active participants in local communities right across the county – are available to deliver the face-to-face business advice and support that recent research confirms continues to be in great demand.

In fact, as a company we are going through a period of change that reflects what is happening in the outside world, and see important opportunities to continue helping Cornish businesses to grow.

More important than any of this, though, is the continued local, regional, national and global success of Cornish business itself. It’s not just the much-discussed power of the Cornwall brand that will continue to drive this in the future, but also much of the work that has been done in recent years to give the county its deserved status as a destination for great business talent.

These are the factors that really matter to the county and its future, nurturing an environment where great businesses can not just survive but prosper and grow – traditional businesses succeeding in the modern world, like Truro’s Polgoon Vineyard and Helston’s Clayworks. Environmental Innovators like Portscatho’s CoBRA™ (Community Battery Recycling Alliance) and technological and scientific groundbreakers like Truro’s Silvertree Engineering and St Austell’s Scientific Services.

This article first appeared in the March 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine