Burnley is booming – and the facts back it up – according to the Office of National Statistics, which has revealed that jobs in the borough are heading in the right direction.
The positive figures, unearthed by Burnley Borough Council’s business support team, will come as no surprise to business leaders and anyone who has taken a close interest in the progress of the borough’s economy over recent years.
Despite the choppy economic waters several governments have had to navigate over the last decade, with recession and subsequent crippling austerity measures inflicted on local councils, Burnley has managed to keep afloat, buck the trend and produce some scintillating success stories.
For anyone who thinks this is hyperbole, living as we do in an ever critical public domain of social media, the ONS figures reveal that the borough has seen an 18.5% growth in jobs over seven years.
Not surprisingly, these have come almost entirely in the private sector, something the Burnley Bondholders Network – a collection of businesses working for the better good – can be rightly proud of.
The number of businesses has also grown to a total of 2,800 – four years of consecutive increases (13% in total). In the last 12 months alone there was a 4.6% increase in the number of new business start-ups.
Kate Ingram, the head of Burnley Council’s Regeneration and Planning Policy Unit said: “Burnley has consistently ranked in the top 10 for private sectors jobs growth for several years now, which is a great reflection of the towns economic growth.
“This growth can be attributed to the huge investments in business infrastructure in the town over the past 10 years and the joint working of the council’s Inward Investment and Business Support Team and the Burnley Bondholders in promoting Burnley’s positive business environment, which has led to an increase in relocation enquiries and in turn business moving in to the borough.
“Several blue chip companies have relocated to Burnley as a result of joint working and promotions in the past couple of years, including Boohoo, Kaman, Exertis, Vodafone Automotive UK, Sparta, Holker IT, and Chess name just a few - with four new companies recently signed up to Burnley’s latest state-of-the-art business space on Vision Park.”
In terms of the number of economically active people of working age, employment is at its highest level on record at 80.6%. Which is higher than the north west (72.3%) or Great Britain (74.3%).
Burnley has forever been a town that has evolved – the town’s 19th century textile industry which helped to power our country’s industrial revolution – was replaced in the middle of the last century with the car and aeroplane parts supplier of Lucas.
Industry in our new century has moved on again – and although those sectors remain, notably in the form of Burnley’s biggest employer Safran Nacelles – digital, entertainment and even education have now come to the fore.
The Burnley Express revealed recently that Burnley will soon become a true university town with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) confirming that it plans to expand its student offering here.
And no doubt with an eye on that burgeoning student population, Burnley Council recently announced ambitious plans to finally redevelop the former Pioneer site in Curzon Street.
Plans would include a cinema, restaurants, a public plaza, shops and a 125-space car park.
No doubt there have been false dawns in the past, indeed on this very site with the ill-fated planned Oval development which never came to fruition, but somehow an air of optimism now pervades.
Kate added: “The council has worked extremely hard alongside Burnley Bondholders to establish Burnley as a thriving area for enterprise and we have built a strong reputation as a go to place for business.
“Securing further investment and jobs for the town is a top priority for us and we are carving out an excellent reputation for attracting and supporting businesses.
“The expansion of the University of Central Lancashire over the next few years will also have a major impact on economic growth and new businesses setting up in the town particularly in the centre, which will soon see the opening of the new Primark store that has created several new jobs in the town.”