Making Cumbria More Creative

Research from market research agency B2B International suggests that Cumbria’s flagging economy could be helped by attracting creative industries to the region

Despite Cumbria’s recognised brand and image of the Lake District, the county is experiencing much change and decline in its relative wealth; indeed Cumbria is the only county in the UK experiencing economic decline. Threats to the region include the highly competitive North West marketplace on its doorstep, depopulation of young talent to nearby cities, accessibility to the west of Cumbria and the lack of existing business infrastructure and urban environments.

Creative industries have been highlighted by the Dept of Culture, Media and Sport as a major growth opportunity and expanding area of employment*. Cumbria currently has an above average economic dependence on declining or vulnerable industries, and a lower presence in creative industries.

B2B International was commissioned by Creative Cumbria to understand not only what creative businesses’ awareness levels and perceptions were of Cumbria as a business location but also to capture the views of creative businesses that have already moved to Cumbria.

B2B director Nick Hague, in charge of the project, says “we explored the views of developers, agents and creative businesses both inside and outside of the region to find out awareness and perceptions of Cumbria, requirements from a region when relocating and creative businesses likelihood to relocate to Cumbria. There were a lot of positives for the county.â€?

When relocating, businesses look to satisfy a wide range of needs. Tangible business issues such as broadband access, cost and availability of premises, transport infrastructure and access to existing markets/industries are always important and for creative businesses these requirements do hold true.

However, issues such as family and personal circumstances, quality of life, low crime rates and attractive surroundings were prominent factors when deciding where to relocate a business; in fact ‘quality of life’ was part of the decision for three quarters of creative companies interviewed.

With two out of three creative companies ‘ideal’ business location being a rural one, Cumbria should be front of mind for businesses when looking to relocate. However, the reality is that only 1 in 10 creative companies outside of Cumbria have considered Cumbria as a place to relocate.

A discrepancy was found between perceptions of businesses outside of Cumbria compared to those already located in the region. Cumbrian companies rate Cumbria far higher on most issues, especially those issues around business decisions including accessibility, future potential growth of the region, proximity to customers and market viability – there is definitely a need to promote the region as a place to do business; especially as three quarters of companies in Cumbria state that the region is a very suitable location for their business.

With the region’s obvious natural beauty and uncrowded space tied in with the quality of life, the cost of living, low crime rates and the upcoming opportunity of the ‘new’ University bringing in fresh creative talent to the region, Cumbria has many strengths. However, of these factors the greatest driver for relocation is probably the fact that a lot of creative industries are looking to work remotely from home and it should be noted that Cumbria was the first region to be broadband enabled. Cumbria is thus in a strong position to attract creative industries to the region.

Creative Cumbria will use the findings from the project to build their marketing and promotional strategy to raise awareness of Cumbria as a business location and attract creative companies, especially those in the sectors of design; video, film & photography; software, computer games & e-publishing plus the publishing sector.


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