Rory calls on local business support for broadband at Chamber of Commerce lunch

At a conference lunch on Friday organised by Cumbria’s Chamber of Commerce at Shap Wells Hotel, Rory asked for local businesses to support his efforts to get better broadband provision for the county, in what he described as “the single most important factor to improving Cumbria’s economy”.

The event brought together businesses, educational institutions and local authorities to discuss how best to promote Cumbria’s economy in the current economic climate. Derek Armstrong, Business Development Manager for Cumbria’s Chamber of Commerce invited Rory to give the keynote speech at the conference, and provided him with a platform to advocate his vision for the future of Cumbria’s economy.

At the heart of Rory’s presentation was an emphasis on the enormous potential that broadband has for Cumbrian businesses. Speaking at the event he said: “The primary obstacle to economic growth in Cumbria is isolation. Isolation has an enormous impact on both a business’ access to service provisions, and on its access to market. For the first time in history, we have developed a technology which allows us to overcome this barrier. Latest figures suggest a significant investment in broadband infrastructure could add up to 3% to Cumbria’s GDP. Within my own constituency – Penrith and the Border – 27% of registered businesses work from home, and over 92% have a workforce of 10 or less. Broadband allows these SMEs to compete at a level that has simply not been possible up until now.”

Building on this, Rory argued: “We must act against any proposals which would seek to artificially pump prime an economy which simply does not exist in most parts of Cumbria. Tourism remains the most significant source of income for our county, and Cumbria’s competitive advantage remains its rural beauty. It is the protection of our landscape which will protect our economy. Large-scale housing projects to provide for large-scale industrial projects must be met with extreme caution in Cumbria. The focus instead has got to be on supporting our SMEs and many of the initiatives the Cumbrian Chamber of Commerce is leading seek to do just that.”

Rory’s talk follows what has been an important week for broadband developments within Cumbria, with Cumbria County Council awarding BT a £40m contract to provide super-fast broadband to the region. Having been one of the most vocal campaigners for Cumbrian broadband projects over the past two years, Rory is keen for local businesses and the local economy to benefit from the technology as soon as possible.

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