Last week was Enterprise Week so in addition to my usual work I made time to talk to people in my constituency involved in setting up new businesses, or supporting those who do. There is exciting talk of the UK being at the start of an entrepreneurial renaissance-since the general election more than one million new jobs have been created by companies around the country.
I know from my regular visits to local businesses that many new Cornish firms are growing, and existing companies thriving, especially those involved in manufacturing or producing food and drink, the green economy and the digital economy. Thanks to the dynamism of such businesses progress is being made in rebalancing our economy away from dependence on financial services in London and the South East to producing more goods and services, food and energy in all parts of the UK.
For those of us who have lived through previous recessions, we know how devastating high levels of unemployment are. I very much appreciate how tough it is for anyone who wants a job and can't find one, however, I do think there is reason to be hopeful for more and better jobs here.
One of the reasons I am hopeful is that more of our businesses are exporting to new markets overseas. Over the past year UK exports to growing world economies, such as Brazil and India, have risen by over ten percent.
The Government is doing all it can to encourage this, and last week launched a new resource for businesses looking to explore their export options- ‘Open to Export’. The service can be accessed through www.opentoexport.com and provides information and advice for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
I would encourage local businesses to have a look. In Cornwall we have some great examples of export success, from Tregothnan teas that now exports their award winning blends to China, to Blackwater-based Teagle Ltd, which provides high quality farming machinery to a global market.
Oak trees from acorns grow is an adage often used when I grew up in a small family business near Falmouth. So I was pleased to spend a morning last week with some acorns, joining an event hosted by OUTSET, an organisation that helps and inspires people to start businesses in Cornwall.
At the Outset event I met people of all ages and backgrounds setting up businesses. Mums who want to balance working from home with raising their family, older people who have lost their job or taken early retirement, people with disabilities. Their enthusiasm and 'can do' attitude was inspiring. OUTSET work with the DWP so if you have a good idea that you think you can turn into a business I suggest you contact OUTSET on 08009174324 or get in touch with your local Job Centre Plus.
As the national effort to rebalance our economy continues, it is good to see Cornish innovation leading the way - to a generation of new businesses, and to new export markets.