An engaging online discussion held last week discussed the future of Copeland dubbing it the perfect place for start-ups and entrepreneurs to grow and proposer.
Keith McMean the managing director of The Entrepreneurs Group was joined by Copeland’s MP Trudy Harrison and Mayor Mike Starkie for an online webinar hosted by young entrepreneur Oliver Hodgson.
The 30-minute discussion delved into replicating the success of Millom across the borough, as well as talking about the best ways to test markets and how the local organisations are helping young people start out in business.
Speaking post, the online discussion Keith McMean said: “My hope for the area is that it becomes a hub for start-ups and entrepreneurs and that not only our young people are given the opportunity to start a new business, but that everyone who has an idea ‘has a chance’ too. Without entrepreneurs and start-ups, the road to recovery will be a long and difficult one.
“I would also like to see the over 50’s think about starting a business. One thing we do know is that Covid-19 has changed the employment market irreversibly and has made it even harder for older workers aged 50-plus to find a job. We want to help change that too, by giving older people a platform through which they can take back control of their lives by launching a business of their own."
The discussion was prompted following the release of various studies highlighting that young people want to start their own business before the age of 30, the discussion was also prompted following the opening of Whitehaven’s new Bus Station business complex. Something the panel all echoed on is that young people in business and people taking the risk of starting a business in any circumstance should be championed.
MP Trudy Harrison pointed out in the online discussion the sheer possibilities here in Copeland, she said: “I think our natural landscape is a big part of our draw to set up businesses here. So many of us in the last year or so have appreciated working from home and being closer to our community. Not to say all start-ups do start from home but the new working from home environment is obviously going to be a major part of it. We are well connected here and the sheer number of business groups we have, for women in business, young people and groups who are eager to support youthful entrepreneurs.
“As an area and a community, we really do value our entrepreneurs, risk-takers, engineers, and those with the ideas, because they are going to solve the problems of the future. People will be well support around here and much needed because we do need to diversify from the nuclear industry, but we can do this in spin-offs that age decommissioning.
“To anyone looking to start a business my top tips would be to do your research, understand and manage the risk and remember that you are the only person holding you back.”
Mayor Mike Starkie talked about the fact Copeland has long been a vibrant hub for businesses touching on recent initiatives: “Back in 2015, we ran two conferences to get the message out that Copeland is open for business and that it is a good place to do business, the way we measure that is six years down the line the council are earning over a million pound more in business rates per annum from business rates than we were in 2015.
“It’s easy to look down King Street and see there are lots of empty units, but that’s an issue facing most towns throughout England, the reality is there aren’t fewer businesses in 2021 than there was in 2005. Some of the larger retailers have gone and of course, the others aren’t going to set up in Whitehaven if they already have outlets in Workington. That’s why the offer in Whitehaven has got to be different and new, that’s why we are looking at setting up a digital grid in Whitehaven, setting up a more modern destination in town, opening up more tourism and hospitality opportunities.
“One of the things which have worked against entrepreneurism in the area is that there are so many good well-paid jobs in the area and so we’ve got to drive diversity in the area. Sellafield is in decommissioning mode that’s going to change but with that, it’s going to bring a raft of new and in some cases better opportunities.”