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It is becoming the ‘norm’ across Cumbria that we are seeing people, entrepreneurs, going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. We see it every day on social media where communities have come together, usually lead by one individual, to take food to people who need it most and to organise drop offs etc needed in their community, usually for the elderly and the vulnerable. This has been mirrored across Cumbria throughout this pandemic.

Yet also across Cumbria we are not seeing or hearing much other than the odd email or link to a government website from our industry leaders other than to give more information for employers on how its intended to recover economically from this pandemic.

It was Sir Tom Hunter the Scottish businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who said, “The best social policy ever invented is a good job”.

We will need a greater emphasis on job creation if Cumbria is to come through this economic catastrophe ready for business.

Across Cumbria today boardrooms are alive with the chatter of ‘restructure’ and ‘how are we going to move forward’? It is without doubt that some of our larger organisations will be planning redundancies and job cuts.

Yet we do not have anything in place that sets out a plan for Cumbria’s youth and what they will do for a job going forward. There is no strategic plan in place to get us through this troubling time and beyond.

We already know that public sector finances will be under pressure for at least the next 10 years. We cannot borrow at these unprecedented levels and not have to pay it back. We will not find the new jobs here.

We know that we are unlikely to find new jobs created anytime soon in Cumbria as there is no pipeline for this to happen currently in place. That leaves two sources for these essential jobs.

We can import them from outside of Cumbria and internationally by attracting companies to move their offices and production operations to Cumbria, important as these jobs may prove to be, they can be precarious and at the whim of a distant head office.

It is staring us in the face, these vital new jobs will be created by people who want to start and grow a new business or social enterprise (the entrepreneurs) or those who have the ambition to drive growth from within (the intrepreneurs).

It is these people who will shape our future. These are the people we should celebrate, nurture and support. We should be putting entrepreneurs, the intrepreneurs and Cumbria’s entrepreneurial culture and spirit at the heart of any and all recovery planning. This will create our pipeline; this will help us recover. It’s not surprising, although a little sad, that very little or nothing of substance has been mentioned about entrepreneurs in any report or recovery plan for Cumbria in the last 3 months. If there is such a plan in existence.

Research by The Kauffman Foundation and the Enterprise Research Centre estimates that all net new jobs are created by new and young firms. Further still, growth companies and scale-ups create the most jobs of all, whilst representing only 5% of companies, they create 50% of new jobs.

The ScaleUp Institute’s research shows these firms not only create more jobs, they are also more productive, export more, generate tax revenue and do better for their communities. Is this not what we want for Cumbria?

It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs are Cumbria’s job creators. Entrepreneurs should be at the heart of our recovery strategy because they will create jobs. We know that they cannot do it alone, that is where the rest of us come in. They need our help, let us give it to them.

Keith McMean is MD and Founder of The Entrepreneurs Group Ltd

The article was inspired by Sandy Kennedy’s original article in the Herald.