Shropshire Star comment: Get investment right and we’ll have it all
A delegation has travelled to Cannes along with some Shropshire stars.
They are not stars of the film world, the sort of thing you would normally associate with Cannes. They are star opportunities for investment and development in this county.
Ditherington Flax Mill. Ironbridge Power Station. Clive Barracks at Tern Hill. Swathes of development land in Telford. These are some of the Shropshire stars being highlighted at the international MIPIM property exhibition at the French resort. In terms of the scale of opportunity in our part of the world, it is a historic and unprecedented moment.
The choices which are made in the coming months and years will shape the future of this county and this effort in showcasing what Shropshire has to offer is a positive move in attracting investment in the first place, and helping to determine the form of that investment and development in planning terms.
Meanwhile Shrewsbury has big ambitions and is about to start on a master plan which will influence how Shrewsbury folk in years to come live, work, and travel.
In "selling" Shropshire, it cannot be assumed that its merits will sell themselves when some potential investors, particularly on the international scene, might not be able even to point to the county on a map.
For others, their image will be of a sleepy rural place, which it is, but which conversely also it isn't. Close to the fields and hills are hotbeds of innovation and state-of-the-art industry.
Shropshire, to use a phrase which has currency in another context, wants to have its cake and eat it, by both retaining the beauty of its environment while being at the leading edge of business and industry.
The former can be achieved by preservation and protection where appropriate. The latter can be achieved by resisting the temptation to stand still. As they say in Formula One car development, to stand still is to move backwards.
These sites being put up in lights at Cannes are big question marks on the county scene. The Flax Mill is already being regenerated and there is and will be much discussion about what to do with huge areas like the Ironbridge Power Station footprint once the physical buildings have been demolished and the land reclaimed.
Shropshire is looking for schemes which are imaginative and energetic, but which do not damage the elements of the county which make it such a special place to live and work.
If Shropshire can get this right, then it really can have it all.