Rory has met local finance directors from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, for a wide-ranging discussion about the Cumbrian economy and, more specifically, the issues facing small businesses in Penrith and the Border.

The event, organised by local ICAEW representatives Jeanette Brown of Dodd & Co. and Keith Proudfoot, ICAEW regional director, was attended also by Andrew Heron of the University of Cumbria, Elspeth James of Penrith Building Society, John Bamforth of Direct Rail Services, Charles Watt of Cranstons, David Ryan of Keswick¬† Convention, Martin Hall of Dent’s, and Patrick Sharman of CHOC.

The debate centred around issues of encouraging professionals to see north Cumbria as an attractive place to live and work; the importance of infrastructure, such as broadband. Rory proposed the idea of a small dedicated fund to make micro-loans to smaller businesses in Cumbria and took advice from the group on how it might be developed.

Rory said: “Society is changing quickly, and with it our economy and our business sectors. Cumbria has been particularly good at adapting to change, but more needs to be done to encourage people that Cumbria and in particular north Cumbria is an excellent place to develop a career and to enter a profession. The quality of life here is second to none, but that need not be at the expense of a serious career in many, many sectors. I very much enjoyed our debate today around the things we can do to better promote this part of Cumbria as a great place to live and work and do business. Cumbrian business deserves to thrive and flourish by attracting the very best people to this area. I am particularly interested in what we can do to make finance more readily accessible four our small businesses, who seem to be too often ignored by the banks.”

Keith Proudfoot said: “The exchange of thoughts around business issues was very useful.¬† Our members, who all hold senior positions in businesses and organisations important to Cumbria, were encouraged to hear what Rory had to say on the challenges facing the region and to know that he listens to the views of his constituents.”

Jeanette Brown of Dodd & Co. said: “I thought it was very admirable that Rory put time aside to speak to us. From my point of view it was a really useful opportunity for our chartered accountant members in business to discuss the issues they are facing in the Cumbrian economy. What was fascinating for me, was that even though we are from substantially different organisations, there was broad agreement on those issues, the main one being ‘recognition’ for the area in terms of opportunity for progression. I consider that Rory’s presence facilitated this engagement and provided an invaluable basis and contribution to our discussions.”

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