Jobs, people and community at the heart of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

31st January 2022

AN opportunity to positively influence thousands of people’s lives across a community by creating hundreds of job opportunities through collaboration doesn’t come along every day.

That’s why John Maddison speaks with such passion and personal commitment when he talks about the vision for iSH – the Industrial Solutions Hub.

Cleator Moor hasn’t always been first in the queue when it comes to being at the centre of major projects of national and international significance.

But the Cleator Moor community is at the beating heart of iSH. That’s why managing director John is so focused on working in collaboration with a range of different organisations, businesses and individuals to deliver the vision.

“It’s very rare you get this kind of opportunity to bring new opportunities to a place and to make such a positive difference in that place,” said John.

“iSH is about Making Ideas Work. It’s about creating the environment for jobs, employment, skills and training opportunities, it’s about entrepreneurs, businesses and industry coming together to collaborate and design, develop and manufacture innovative solutions. And most of all, through that success and business growth, it’s about making a positive difference to people’s lives and regenerating a community.

“This is about creating opportunities for all. It’s about working with the community, working with the different groups and really understanding what those employment opportunities might look like and what is needed to turn that into reality.”

iSH is an initiative of regional, national and international significance which will create jobs, opportunities for businesses and organisations to collaborate, enhance skills, provide business support, and bring a range of economic and social benefits to the community through projects which will have a positive impact on people, the economy, and the environment.

iSH will create a solutions hub where businesses in the region will be able to collaborate and work with other specialist companies from around the UK and the rest of the world on delivering solutions to industry challenges which can then be exported around the globe, helping organisations expand and create further job opportunities.

iSH also aims to create a hub where research and development can take place, ideas can be developed and products manufactured.

Part of the initial funding for the iSH project comes through the Cleator Moor Town Deal, which secured an offer of £22.5m from Government in July 2021 for five different projects which will help the area and its communities to thrive for years to come.

One of these projects is Enterprising Town – a £16.5 million scheme part-funded through a £7 million contribution through Towns Fund – to develop new facilities at the Leconfield Estate in Cleator Moor in order to harness new employment opportunities for the community and to attract further investment and skills to the area.

The Town Deal project at Leconfield focuses on utilising funding offered by the Government and other sources to create a new, flexible hub and commercial building space as well as site improvements and landscaping, benefiting both the community and estate tenants through the longer term development of skills and business support.

John said: “There is so much capability in the local community. I can’t see anywhere else in the UK which has the opportunity to grab hold of such innovative capability and evolve it into something more, something bigger, something different.

“We have a unique opportunity here to work together to bring about positive change and to establish West Cumbria globally for something other than Sellafield.

“The key to delivery is a collaborative mindset. If we can combine all of that capability, all of those skills, bring them together, you can multiply the effect.

“The temptation as a business is to do it yourself and do your own thing. But If you are a business which is looking to grow or which is looking to move into a different industry then there will be others out there who can help you achieve that.

“iSH will help create those opportunities by bringing the right organisations, whether that’s academic, research, national bodies or Catapults, together with businesses and industry to increase those capabilities on anything from national infrastructure projects to solving individual problems. It’s about finding the right team for each opportunity.”

John brings his experience from running a similar operation within global business Jacobs which provided solutions to complex problems within the nuclear industry, including in nuclear decommissioning and power generation.

He has first-hand experience of what can be achieved through the power of collaboration and of industry working together with SMEs and micro SMEs.

“That side of the business at Jacobs grew fivefold in seven years. The opportunity in West Cumbria is to get something like this up and running and allow it to evolve and grow the regional capability. When you get organisations collaborating you build up that capability.”

The whole of the new Enterprising Town is due to be completed in the next two to five years. The full larger site across Cleator Moor is likely to be complete in the next 10 to 15 years.

John said: “We will be working collaboratively with Sellafield and the supply chain. Every type of organisation will be involved, whether large or small, academic, or skills and training, there will be a huge variety of businesses and organisations involved and creating employment.

“Some companies that are already established in West Cumbria will thrive and grow there. We want larger companies to come and be part of this as well. There may be other companies which don’t even exist yet which want to get involved.

“It will be a massive boost for Cleator Moor and West Cumbria bringing hundreds of people to the area for their daily business. They may decide to live here, they will certainly spend their money here.”

So in ten years time when iSH has achieved its aims and hundreds of jobs have been created and the benefit to the Cleator Moor community and across West Cumbria is there for all to see, what will John look back on with most satisfaction?

“iSH in partnership with the Town Deal is about people and the regeneration of a place. So to be able to look back and see that we have made a real difference and changed people’s opportunities and changed people’s lives, and that the town has been regenerated, shops are filled, houses are filled, new businesses are springing up, I don’t think anything could make me more proud than that.”