BUSINESSES across Blackburn and Darwen are seeking opportunities to capitalise on the economy’s emergence from recession.

Whitebirk-based Optima Control Solutions achieved a £2.6million turnover in 2013 and growth has been consistent at 20 per cent in recent years.

There is more work to be had, nationally and internationally; work that would fuel faster growth for the firm and create more jobs.

But Michael Hill, managing director, faces an issue common among advanced manufacturing firms — the talent isn’t available to complete the work.

Optima works with multinational firms such as 3M and Smith & Nephew to bring advanced technical thinking to improve production efficiencies. A five per cent increase they were able to achieve for one client represented a multi-million pound boost in annual capacity.

Michael said: “We are hugely successful and respected throughout the industry. Our results for clients are exceptional. Our only real limiter to growth is having the high-level skills available in our workforce to complete the work. I have to be cautious in developing new business.

“The government is taking steps to attract young people in to science, technical, engineering and maths (STEM) education and degrees, and it’s hoped that the number of graduates with advanced manufacturing capabilities will grow in coming years. But this doesn’t help at a business level to attract talent that already exists. This is where I feel Hive can help.”

Hive is Blackburn and Darwen’s powerful network of business leaders. One of its goals is to develop Blackburn and Darwen’s reputation for excellence in employment, and make the area attractive to outside talent.

“If businesses can come together and make Blackburn and Darwen a more attractive proposition to the talent that exists, a number of manufacturing and industrial firms could grow overnight.”

Hive is continuing to bring business leaders together. To join, visit or call 01254 585613.