Bacup Business Association’s Chair featured on a Q&A panel of a Celebration Of Business In Rossendale event organised by Rossendale Borough Council’s Invest In Rossendale and Valley At Work.
Rachel Weinhold featured on the Q&A panel answering questions and taking ideas about how to boost business growth in the borough alongside other panellists including David Hague from Mission Labs, Leader of the Council Councillor Alyson Barnes and deputy leader Councillor Jackie Oakes.
Rachel who has chaired the Bacup Business Association since the start of 2019 is also the managing director of Bacup-based digital marketing and SEO agency GrowTraffic.
Points made by Rachel during the panel debate included:
“We are surrounded by beautiful countryside and the community is so welcoming and people are very friendly.
“There is also a lot of heritage and it special and it was the silicon valley of its time. It was at the heart of the industrial revolution, and, as such, has a wealth of history and heritage that is now being preserved by some amazing organisations (such as Valley Heritage) for future generations
“The location is amazing; it’s close enough to Manchester for people to easily commute yet we’re surrounded by rolling hillsides, moorland, stunning scenery. You are in the middle of the countryside yet close to civilisation.
“Because of the above, Rossendale has a thriving and growing business economy. Digital business, for e.g., are able to locate here and be in the heart of the countryside with reasonable rents whilst still close to Manchester, heart of the digital north.
“We’ve only lived here 6 years, yet the sense of community here seems much more than anywhere else we’ve lived, for e.g. People are fiercely loyal to their towns and rooted in a location, but that breeds for some great things, such as community events and groups like Bacup Pride. It makes people want to come and live/work here.
“The way people shop is changing and there’s no point in trying to deny that. People are now shopping online and/or visiting fewer shops that do everything (supermarkets), hence the high street needs to change.
“The high street needs to become more unique and do something that can’t be replicated online, so that means a focus on local products and services as well as experiences, as much as shopping. We need more bars, cafes, cinemas, theatres etc.
“Shops could share usage or change use more easily to help start-ups and offer a changing retail experience to shoppers.
“More people need to move back into the town centres to live, to bring more vibrancy back and multiple-use town centres.
“There have been some great schemes recently to improve the infrastructure, such as the Bacup THI, which has made great strides in improving Bacup for everyone. However, there’s more to do.
“New homes are being built – which is good – but more still need to come to ensure good quality and affordable housing for everyone. Also, as more homes are built, the infrastructure will need to improve further.
“There have been improvements to the bus and rail networks, which have been beneficial, but more can still be done. For e.g., getting a bus into Burnley from Bacup can be tricky and it should be easy and the Witchway services the west of Rossendale but could a similar service to Manchester be routed through Bacup?
“Due to the geography of the borough – the Valley – there is one main road and it often has roadworks on it as that is where all the utilities run too. Improvements have been made but it fosters anger and makes getting around the valley more arduous than it should be.
“Some local school are fab but some are notably not and work needs to to be done to improve the local schools and further and makes sure they are fit for everyone.
“Food and drink is absolutely vital to our high streets surviving and it’s great to see so many new food and drink businesses arriving now in Rossendale. It’s crucial that the council supports and encourages such businesses, such as reduced rates or allowing ‘pop-ups’.
“The key to all of these surviving is variety; it’s crucial that new ventures are encouraged to come with different offerings and that they are all supported.
“The recent Food and Drink Guide organised by Valley at Work has been an amazing success – we need more schemes like this.
“There are so many artisan food and drink crafters in the Valley; something like an artisan market would be great to showcase them. Or other events, such as a food and drink trail etc.
“GrowTraffic has employed 5 people living in the Bacup area and we’ve never had a problem but we did things slightly differently – not the usual application process. We let people we networked with know that we were looking for employees and our wider network helped us find highly skilled local people. In addition, businesses need to offer flexible working because the world of work is changing. There’s no need for the brain drain to Manchester!
“There are a lot of colleges and education centres locally and they are making good inroads into the business community via expos etc – this should be encouraged and continued.
“We have attended the Rossendale Works Employability And Jobs Fair for the last couple of years and it’s great. It was great to meet the local community and children, and demonstrate the skills that businesses require.