In a bizarre turn of events, the first half of 2021 saw us locked down, yet preparing to welcome G7 leaders and the world’s media.
It was vital that Cornwall positioned itself in such a way that it would be seen as the authority on sustainability and collaboration – a region capable of leading the green revolution.
Organisations like Cornwall Chamber, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, Cornwall Trade and Investment and many others produced events, exhibitions, videos, printed copy and recorded briefings to ensure that the messaging was right and the opportunities were clearly visible to journalists and the world leaders.
I think we achieved what we set out to: to present Cornwall in such a way that it benefits from the G7 legacy long term. The challenge now is to keep momentum going.
One of Cornwall Chamber’s key objectives this year is to engage with the younger generation.
What do you want Cornwall to be famous for? The challenge will always be keeping the Duchy’s values whilst attracting interest. Our average wage is 17% lower than the national average – we want that to go up, but at what cost? What is important to you – and what’s not?
Are B Corporations (BCorps) and the Triple Bottom Line of people, place and planet on your radar? Will they be your priority as you gain more control in your department or business? How can you personally activate them? What will make them meaningful?
You are part of a world where an 18-year old (Greta Thunberg) and a 95-year old (Sir David Attenborough) have more in common than millions of people in between. Why is that? What is the unifying factor?
All of these questions are important for establishing what Cornwall should look like in the future. It’s important that the messages organisations like ourselves are putting out there are appropriate for the Duchy going forward, so by working with young businesspeople and understanding their aspirations for Cornwall, we stand a much better chance of getting it right.
We’re connecting with the new era of entrepreneurs in a number of ways. Our 30 under 30 awards recognise the exceptional talent that exists in the under 30s in Cornwall. The 2021 winners were announced in the June issue of Business Cornwall, and what a fantastic bunch they are – two of them Truro School alumni! These awards are a great career enhancement – I’ve seen many a CV with ‘2018, 30 under 30 winner’ listed, and so it should be!
The success of the awards, coupled with strong evidence to suggest that young businesspeople in Cornwall have felt they’ve lost a year when it comes to opportunities to progress their career (like networking and training), has led us to launch ‘Surge’. Surge is a Chamber networking group specifically for businesspeople under 30.
Many businesses reserve their networking tickets for more experienced members of staff, leaving the new kids on the block who are full of enthusiasm and energy, sat at a desk. By creating a network and a space for budding entrepreneurs to grow, learn and make valuable contacts, we stand a much better chance of keeping talent in Cornwall.
It definitely feels like a shift change is happening in the Duchy: suddenly the world has become aware of Cornwall as both a tourist destination and a leader in sustainability and collaboration, but an awareness of Cornwall in 2020 after many holidayed here instead of abroad has contributed to a housing and hospitality crisis.
So, now is the time to start reshaping our future to make tourism sustainable, houses affordable and the average wage higher. It won’t be me driving forward these changes in 30 years’ time, so it’s really important to me that we as a Chamber start having conversations with the business leaders of tomorrow. You!
CEO Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Lieutenant, OT Parent, Foundation Trustee
Feb 3rd 2023
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