Centuries-old trade links are key to future for King’s Lynn
- Credit: Archant
King's Lynn's heritage may have attracted thousands of visitors last year, but it is perhaps its unseen network of trade links dating back centuries which has recently delivered the town its biggest economic coup.
And as well as reconnecting with old commercial allies in Europe, the town is investing in a multi-million pound innovation centre to add engineering and technology industries to its long-standing focus on food processing.
The drive to put King's Lynn's businesses back on the map has seen it return to the fold of the Hanse group this month - the modern day form of an ancient league of market towns in northern Europe and the Baltic states which dates back to the 15th century.
'We constantly had this sense that we were missing a trick, not being in the Hanse group as we once had been,' said Nicholas Daubney, leader of King's Lynn borough council and one of three board members for Hanse. 'Now it's about giving ourselves that reputation.
'We're not on the edge of England, we are in the centre of Europe.'
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After ramping up the drive four years ago to return to Hanse, which was re-instated by the Dutch in the 1980s, King's Lynn's economic leaders sealed the deal by hosting the Hanseatic business conference and festival this month.
Going forwards, the team at the council want to attract more engineering and technology companies to the region because they provide the high-skilled jobs the region badly needs, and can use the new export links in Europe.
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Ostap Paparega, economic development manager at the council, said raising the average salary of the area would complement its high living standards and draw in talent from Cambridge, London and Norwich.
'I'd say one of our biggest challenges here is that King's Lynn still has one of the lowest average salaries in the region, and the country,' said Mr Paparega. 'We're moving from food processing facilities, which used to be the main industry here, to other highly skilled roles in manufacturing and engineering. I want the Hanse to give those businesses real, tangible opportunities.'
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