“Choose Chorley For Business” is the message being spread to firms far and wide in a campaign by Chorley Council.
Chorley took centre stage in front of influential business people from across the North West as the borough showcased its development opportunities in Manchester city centre.
“We are offering grants for businesses to relocate, we are helping businesses to move but we are also helping businesses grow and develop.”Coun Alistair Bradley
Dozens of big name businesses were keen to find out what Chorley has to offer and what opportunities there might be to invest in the borough.
The event, held at the Bridgewater Hall, has already created positive leads that could see new investment in the borough.
It was part of the council’s Choose Chorley For Business campaign, which was launched last year to bring new businesses and create jobs in the area.
Coun Alistair Bradley, council leader, said: “We are doing a lot of work to bring forward new sites in the borough that will attract new businesses and create more jobs for local people.
“To make the most of what we’ve got we need to go to where the influential people are and sell Chorley to them, which is what the Chorley In Manchester event was all about.
“We are in a great location as the gateway to the three major cities in the North West – Manchester, Liverpool and Preston – and now is the time to build relationships with agents, investors and developers who are looking for new sites.”
The event featured a presentation about what Chorley has to offer followed by a question and answer session with panel members including Coun Bradley, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, Andrew Bradley from FI Real Estate Management, Andrew Jones from TVS Supply Chain Solutions and Dr Liz Mear from NW Coast Academic Health Science Network.
There were questions about the help available from the council as well as transport links, quality of life and availability of skilled employees.
Coun Bradley told the Guardian there is a long-standing aim to raise Chorley’s profile in Manchester and encourage businesses to relocate.
He said: “We have done some work trying to build links with the business community in Manchester and that’s now come to fruition with this event.
“This event was to let people in Manchester know Chorley is the place to do business and we are offering incentives.
“We got a good response. We are targeting people who have land and business space to offer in Chorley to go and tell people why they believe they should relocate here.”
Coun Bradley believes that Chorley’s main selling point is its location, with so many people living and working in the surrounding area.
Being highlighted in the campaign are local education and skills, the lifestyle available to residents and access to the motorway network and cities.
At the event, the sites highlighted included the digital health park planned for Euxton Lane in Chorley and offices in Buckshaw Village.
The firms represented at the event included digital health businesses who could move to the digital health park and businesses with an interest in logistics due to the motorway links.
Coun Bradley said: “We have got three motorways in our area, we have four railway stations, we have got a very highly skilled workforce and we have got generally good educational levels of the people of Chorley.
“We have reasonably cheap levels of rent or land for commercial property.
“It’s all the attributes to make a business successful.”
The council’s campaign is encouraging businesses to move to Chorley, with support such as a grants system, sites identified for different investors and properties available for use.
It has already attracted several firms - a new Morrow Brothers bottling plant serving micro-breweries opened in Buckshaw Village with a £23,750 grant from the council for new equipment and created 19 jobs, while 20 jobs were created when Ultimaker International, a leading business in the 3D printing technology market, established its headquarters in Chorley.
Coun Bradley said he had not heard of any other district councils holding events like that in Manchester, which was attended by representatives from two other councils.
And he insisted the Choose Chorley For Business campaign was not designed to hurt neighbouring towns.
He said: “We don’t want to pinch business from our neighbours like Bolton and Leyland, we would rather take them from further afield.
“If a business moves from Bolton to Chorley they are not new jobs, they are just relocating.
“I would rather see them coming from other areas.”
And he hopes the borough can emulate Manchester’s success.
“Manchester is an entrepreneurial city. It’s known for its entrepreneurship and the fact it’s driving the economy of the north forward,” he said.
“We are copying what Manchester is doing.
“I don’t think they will be concerned that we are a major competitor but we can offer things they can’t offer. We don’t need the volume and size that they do.
“We are offering grants for businesses to relocate, we are helping businesses to move but we are also helping businesses grow and develop.”
It is not the first time that council bosses have spoken to businesses in other areas - Coun Bradley went to London to speak to firms following the success of the council’s entry in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The event was one of many hosted by the council for businesses. The next event will be a Choose Chorley business network evening at 5.30pm on Wednesday, November 25 at Chorley Town Hall.
For more information about the support on offer to businesses, visit choosechorley.co.uk.