Why Blackburn?

1 year ago

A few weeks into a relocation to the town’s newly generated Cathedral Quarter and I am peppered with one question since arriving …. “Why Blackburn?”

I fondly recall my very first trip to Blackburn in 1987, an energetic northern town with a very forthright MP. The Right Honourable Jack Straw would often stand on a box with a microphone in the town square setting the world to rights.

It had a bustling market, with many flagship high street retailers and even a trendy nightclub. We queued forever to climb the ramp, before finally parking above the old market. Every weekend, it was the place to see in the afternoon and to be seen in the evening.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that in 2017, I’d be at the helm of a thriving business with a 40-strong workforce located in an award-winning office space overlooking the town’s iconic Cathedral with views that stretch over the Pennines and beyond.

It’s a real testament to how the town has moved with the times while continually looking to innovate for the future. There’s no doubt Blackburn lost some of its mojo as two recessions hit, with high unemployment having a crippling impact in 1990 and again in 2008. Land prices fell, and the town hit rock bottom as the economy languished.

But with every downward turn comes great opportunity and regeneration. Blackburn has done it with knobs on, rising to the challenge and investing millions into regeneration over the last decade which is still ongoing.

The Council were enthusiastic when approached about enquiries into a shiny new glass tower by the Rail station. We sensed their appreciation of new ideas and had faith that we could continue to expand our business further by relocating our team here.

 

I believe, without a doubt, that people respond to whatever environment they find themselves. Our incredible workforce means everything to us, so we put them in a setting to be proud of and where they want to do a great job servicing our customers.

The regeneration around the Cathedral Quarter, the business and retail outlets, the infrastructure and transport improvements are a welcomed playground to our younger employees (85% are 30 years or under) who have been invigorated by relocation here. There are places to shop, eat, meet friends and take advantage of the marvellous leisure facilities.

Blackburn has sought to bring communities and diversity together, and there’s a real sense that the private and public sector are working hard together for the future. We are keen to be a big part of that. Every day is an opportunity to reach out, to connect and to build a strong community and Blackburn is a testament to that.

With a very focused business community and colleges housing 15,000 students, the addition of a state of the art Youth Zone facility underpins the fostering of young talent coming through the town. Blackburn’s northern grit, work ethic, appreciation for its heritage and its people make it an exciting time to be part of it all.

I encourage people to see for themselves the changes taking place to future-proof jobs, refurbish visitor attractions and encourage further investment. We should all celebrate and support this forward-thinking innovation so everyone in Blackburn can take advantage of what is to come.

The future is very bright indeed.

So when I am asked… “Why Blackburn?” I ask… “Why not?”


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