The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce presented its Business Plan for Cornwall this morning (April 10), a document containing the priorities for local business over the next five years.
The Chamber revealed the findings at a special presentation to Cornwall’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), at the St Austell Business Park Conference Centre.
It follows on from ‘A Business Plan for Britain’, which was published last year by the British Chambers of Commerce.
Independent market research company, PFA Research, conducted the research as an extension to its normal quarterly research programme for Cornwall Chamber.
PFA MD, Robert Rush, commented: “We needed to capture the collective voice of business in Cornwall and Scilly – to find out how confident they are, what they need help with and understand what’s most important to their future success.”
And it contains a few surprises – concerns about business support, tax and business rates, and physical infrastructure are completely overshadowed by worries about developing the next generation, youth skills and cultivating talent.
Chamber chief executive, Kim Conchie, said: “Developing the talents of the next generation is something that the British Chambers of Commerce plan highlighted as ‘essential’. However, I don’t think any of us were expecting this to be such a huge issue for Cornish companies; almost 60% of respondents have reported difficulties in finding suitable staff.”
Although businesses in Cornwall & Scilly mirrored the national call for simplifying costs and taxes, they bucked the national trend by not endorsing lowering taxes at any price. 49% of respondents said they would be open to higher taxation if it meant that more of it was retained and spent in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly.
A total of 82% of businesses in Cornwall believe that withdrawal from the EU would have a negative impact on business; only 3% think that exit would be a good thing. Over half of Cornwall & Scilly’s businesses support remaining in the Union with certain powers being transferred from Brussels, back to Westminster.
The Business Plan suggests companies in Cornwall & Scilly are enjoying a period where the outlook for cashflow and investment is positive, but notes that access to long-term investment remains a weakness.
Each section of the Business Plan closes with a list of calls made by Cornwall Chamber of Commerce. Conchie added: “The calls equip Parliamentary candidates with the information they need to be able to support Cornwall’s businesses should they be elected.”
To download A Business Plan for Cornwall, click here.