Pirate 2 Blogs

History repeats - often. Who's to blame?

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2:19pm 7th December 2015

Words by David Smallman - www.smallmanonbusiness.com

Back in 2009 I wrote an article, published in Scotland, after an international drinks company moved production out of a town and consolidated it elsewhere. In all the media it was noticeable that no mention was made regarding the lack of forward planning by local, regional and national government agencies – and by extension the local population.

Here again in late 2015 we have a local community, in the North of England – Redcar, up in arms at the closure of a facility that is a major source of jobs but a facility that is owned and operated by an international firm that had a £58m consolidated net loss in the second quarter of 2015 and who’s Board of Directors are responsible to shareholders to run a successful business and return earnings (where possible) to those investors.

But yet again the rhetoric - on both sides of the political divide nationally and more significantly locally – has sort to cast blame on others for their predicament.

So you say what does this matter to us here in Cornwall? We don’t have these big “legacy” industries, we are a County of mainly small/medium size firms many locally owned and operated for years.

Whilst this is true on one level it’s also true to say that in many communities across the County there are significant employers who are national or multi- national, you only have to look at the retail sector to see many examples.

As I said back in 2015 “Any community that is dependant on one key market sector or industry - in the same way as any company that is dependent on one customer - is a hostage to fortune”.

And yet, as has happened in Redcar with the closure of the steel plant, the media, politicians and the local population turned on the Board of SSI and blamed them for the difficulties they faced.

Well you say isn’t that natural? After all when a community is threatened by the exodus of any substantial local employer surely the “company” is to blame?

Doesn't this seem a little unfair? After all in this world nothing ever stays the same. A major factor in the Redcar situation has been that the price of steel in some cases is currently 65% of what it was a little over a year ago. Markets evolve, companies evolve and therefore shouldn’t our communities?

However time and time again those responsible, both those elected and their civil servants, let down their communities by not actively engaging in the business of attracting viable, diverse, sustainable commerce to their locality.

Additionally many of these politicians and their officials will also tell us it’s not their job to assist the “private” sector by encouraging companies with both meaningful financial assistance and help ease regulation to encourage profits for re-investment and thus growth. Many, particularly in local government, see this as “lining the pockets of entrepreneurs”

Yet in a society that has spurned the whole notion of Nationalized Industries run by and on behalf of the people where do all of us expect the jobs of the future to come from if it’s not from those prepared to risk their cash and often homes, in order to give themselves and others an income and to evolve those businesses into the World Class leading companies of tomorrow.

In doing this sometimes, in order to evolve, they have to move on to pastures new. With proper planning, a population educated to understand the ever changing cycles of economic development and encouraged to support the risk takers amongst us, the moving on will not come as a shock leaving areas financially and emotionally devastated. Rather it will simply be seen as part of a growing sustainable community.   


david smallman

David Smallman has over 48 years of experience, gained living, working and doing business in 58 countries. He is writer on business matters including a smallman logoregular column “150 words that should make sense in your business” available in print in the USA and online.

He is broadcaster who has contributed to The Business Hub here on Pirate 2 DAB; helping listeners to “making sense of business".







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