Survey results: Cornwall facing “image challenge”

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More than half of Cornwall-based businesses (52%) would choose the Duchy as the ideal base if they were starting all over again.

More than a third, though, (38%) said it might be easier to locate a start-up business somewhere else. Less than 10% said that they would choose somewhere else if they were starting their business again.

These are among the top-line findings of a survey of Cornish business owners, conducted for Business Cornwall by Bishop Fleming, the south west accountancy firm with the widest spread of offices throughout the region.

The survey was timed to coincide with recent developments, like the creation of the Local Enterprise Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and the winning of unitary status for the Duchy’s new council.

“Overall, these are truly encouraging findings for Cornwall, but they raise some serious challenges for the Duchy’s new business-focused initiatives”

Less than 15% of respondents believed that the new LEP and unitary council will transform Cornwall’s standing as a business location. Most (57%) said that it will take at least six months to see the effectiveness of these two bodies.

According to Ian Fraser, partner in charge of Bishop Fleming’s Truro office: “More significant, perhaps, is that more than a quarter of our respondents (28.5%) said that most people still seem to believe that Cornwall’s focus should be on holidaymakers, rather than on being a home for ambitious businesses.

“Cornwall clearly has an image challenge: of course we want to sustain its reputation as a superb holiday destination – but our economy demands that we command the attention we deserve as a serious location for serious business.”

Meanwhile, only 12% said that Cornwall is not a good place for business.

Almost half (42.5%) were adamant that Cornwall is good for business, despite being one of Britain’s most remote locations, thanks to low staff costs, great quality of life, and the benefits expected from the LEP and broadband plans.

For slightly more respondents (45.5%), the jury is still out.

Fraser added: “These respondents point out that, while Cornwall’s special status provides a number of benefits (eg EU grants, priority broadband, etc), it remains a peripheral location.”

Crucially, perhaps, almost a quarter (23%) would recommend Cornwall as the location for a new start-up company.

More than two thirds (65%) said they would hesitate to recommend Cornwall as the place to start a business.

“Overall, these are truly encouraging findings for Cornwall, but they raise some serious challenges for the Duchy’s new business-focused initiatives,” said Fraser.

Further findings and comment will be published in the March issue of Business Cornwall magazine

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