Maximising Cumbria’s economic strengths.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership aims to fast track the local economy so that the county can position itself as a global leader in advanced manufacturing, nuclear engineering, energy production, tourism and food production – with appropriate connectivity and infrastructure to make each of these an ongoing success story.

Our strategic approach is based largely on a long term programme of targeted investments and interventions in four specifically identified areas of development, growth and opportunity for a stronger, export orientated economy and an integral part of the Northern Powerhouse:


Manufacturing is the largest sector of the Cumbrian economy: it contributes about a quarter of the county’s economic output (GVA) and provides around for 35,000 jobs. The county is home to some innovative, diverse and highly experienced specialist manufacturing firms with world class expertise.

Exploiting manufacturing technologies and capability.

Cumbria’s economy is underpinned by an extensive manufacturing base which is becoming increasingly influential in advanced technologies and specialist expertise.

The county is home to household names like BAE Systems and Pirelli, as well as a rapidly growing SME base and supply chain. Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership is aiming to tap into existing manufacturing strengths so that the county becomes globally recognised as a leading location for advanced manufacturing industries and a world-class research and development and innovation base.

Increase advanced manufacturing workforce by at least 7,300.

Support new start-ups and continue to attract highly skilled workers.

Facilitate growth and expansion of existing manufacturing base and local supply chains.

Strengthen links between advanced manufacturing and energy sectors.

This activity will allow Cumbria to drive further economic growth, employment and critical innovation, to develop new products and services, to grow export outputs and to attract more manufacturing businesses and operations to the county.

With greater collaboration between sector based supply chains, higher technical capabilities and quality of the manufacturing base, the aim is to ensure that more component parts are made in Cumbria, with established clusters of supply chains business that can support a range of businesses.

Nuclear & energy

Cumbria has a very strong skills base in the nuclear and energy industries. It is a focal point for international nuclear expertise and forms a bedrock for the success of UK energy and nuclear sectors and associated exports. The county is also a leader in the generation of renewable energy, particularly in on and off shore wind.

Leading the way in nuclear and energy expertise.

Cumbria is an internationally-recognised centre of nuclear excellence, with the capability to lead on a range of large-scale, nationally significant nuclear infrastructure projects which will contribute towards economic growth, locally, regionally and for the UK as a whole.

The nuclear industry is valued at £95 billion in the UK and is growing approximately 2.1% per year. Cumbria’s long associations with the industry, especially in the defence sector and the management and logistics of nuclear materials, makes the county a natural home to a highly experienced nuclear energy workforce.

Cumbria’s nuclear and energy excellence is also contributing to the growth of a highly productive business cluster of industrial expertise, from the design and production of submarines to specialisms in subsea technologies and support for oil and gas production.

The county’s energy sector is winning international acclaim for its innovation, safety and legacy management, as well as diversifying into higher impact renewable opportunities such as off shore wind.

Use established expertise to deliver the next generation of nuclear powered submarines.

Utilise our natural assets to drive forward a low-carbon economy.

Develop port, rail and road infrastructure to support major nuclear and energy projects.

Utilise our highly-skilled work force and a strong supply chain.

Grow reputation as a global leader and exporter of energy sector technology and expertise.

Our aim is for Cumbria to host an internationally-renowned cluster of world-class research and development and innovation facilities which act as a springboard to sell our ideas, expertise and skills nationally and internationally.

Countries across the world are investing in new nuclear power generation as well as decommissioning, meaning the county is uniquely placed to export its skills and technology. Our expertise in nuclear defence and the development of micro-nuclear reactors could also provide cost-effective, reliable solutions for emerging countries which have an increasing demand for electricity.

Rural & visitor economy

Cumbria is one of the UK’s most popular destinations, providing accessible recreation and leisure resources, attracting over 41 million visitors per year and supporting 34,000 jobs. The county’s internationally-renowned visitor offer, coupled with strengths in the agri-food sector and food and drink provenance, has massive potential to grow and add value.

Building on the county’s strengthening visitor and rural economies.

Cumbria’s rural and visitor economies are hugely important: the county hosts around 40 million visitors who collectively spend £2.5 billion in the area. Across England’s 39 LEP areas, Cumbria has the second highest proportion of its population living in rural areas, the second highest proportion of adults working in agriculture and the second highest proportion working in the tourism sector.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership has produced a Rural and Visitor Economy Growth Plan, developed in consultation with its partners, representative organisations and rural businesses.

It identifies ways to extend the ‘adventure’ experience, support events, enhance attractions and experiences linked to food, drink and culture, influence access into Cumbria and travel within the county, and maximise the benefits from emerging digital opportunities. Another key target is the application of new technology in agriculture, food production and rural specialist manufacturing sectors to encourage economic growth.

The plan also recognises the importance of continued investment in, and promotion of, existing attractions, accommodation and infrastructure, as well as maximising the potential of Cumbria’s two World Heritage Sites, the Lake District National Park and Hadrian’s Wall. More overnight and longer visitor stays will help to increase visitor expenditure, and a better developed year-round visitor market will support new jobs.

Rural economy growth priorities

  • Maintaining and enhancing the special qualities of Cumbria’s rural areas.
  • Capitalising on our rural strengths:
    – Exploiting our brand
    – Adding value to under-exploited rural resources
    – Deepening existing rural supply chains/clusters.
  • Building a location for future businesses.
  • Exploiting major new project opportunities for local rural supply chains.

Visitor economy growth priorities

  • Growing Cumbria’s international visitor numbers.
  • Enhancing Cumbria’s adventure pursuits, cultural and heritage offer.
  • Capitalising on opportunities from business tourism.
  • Continued investment in and promotion of existing attractions, accommodation and infrastructure.
  • Improving access to digital information and the ability to get around Cumbria.

Transport, infrastructure & connectivity

Cumbria’s transport links, infrastructure and online connectivity are of paramount strategic importance in joining up the county and thereby supporting the growth and diversification of business. Better connectivity, as well as serviced business accommodation, more housing and employment opportunities, all support a diverse economy and help attract new business.

Putting the right infrastructure in place to accelerate growth.

Improvements to Cumbria’s road, rail, air and sea port links, together with better communications connectivity, employment site developments, additional business space and new housing are all essential to support enterprise and stimulate the local economy.

In consultation with local authorities, organisations responsible for managing and maintaining the county’s infrastructure, large and smaller businesses, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership has produced an infrastructure plan to improve transport and communications networks and help accelerate economic growth. Infrastructure improvements focus primarily on exploiting the strategic connectivity of the M6 corridor and the West coast mainline.

The West of M6 Strategic Connectivity Study, published by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Highways England aª er wide consultation, has also identified 38 priority road improvement schemes for the county to fulfil its economic potential. The study provides the evidence base to support bids for funding for road improvements from government, and highlight to large employers the advantages of making financial contributions to the cost of improving local roads.

Proposed improvements to Cumbria’s rail network include a package of measures to enhance the Cumbrian coastal railway, its line capacity, reliability and resilience, with increased passenger and freight services.

Superfast broadband technology across the county will also encourage more rapid business growth, especially in rural areas. The aim is to achieve 100% superfast broadband coverage in the county by 2021, as well as working with mobile operators to encourage investment for wider and more reliable services.

Our work also involves working with key agencies such as the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to help deliver new housing and regeneration.

Improve transport infrastructure to enable more reliable journeys across Cumbria to the M6.

Offer well-serviced business parks along strategic transport routes to attract new businesses.

Modernise airport and port facilities to support businesses, especially in the energy sector.

Support delivery of new homes and quality employment sites connected to the M6 corridor.

Use Enterprise Zones to attract new investment and increase employment opportunities.