A BUSINESSWOMAN from East Lancashire has been chosen to steer the city of Sunderland towards a prosperous 21st century.

Inner city regeneration expert Chris Rawlinson, who lives in the Ribble Valley and works in Burnley, has been appointed City Centre Manager by the North East Chamber of Commerce.

Her job will be to promote the city and encourage business and growth.

Mrs Rawlinson, 46, of Sabden, has specialised in economic development and attracting investment since 1988 and has worked for an Enterprise Agency and a Training and Enterprise Council in this area.

In her present role as executive director of Initiative Burnley Limited, Mrs Rawlinson has been involved in developing the town centre to its full potential.

It was to be a five year project but she will be cutting short her role to take up a new North East challenge.

She has always been interested in the North East, citing the area as a role model for regeneration initiatives in the rest of the country. Mrs Rawlinson said: "The North East is a forerunner in the creation of Enterprise Agencies and Zones which have helped to breathe new life into the inner cities.

"I am greatly looking forward to being associated with this region in the sphere of regeneration.

"Sunderland has already made great strides in improving and upgrading its image through a number of successful campaigns and I will be building on this success."

Mrs Rawlinson will be moving to the North East with her husband David whose career in the motor trade will enable him to re-locate too.

The couple's children live in Scotland and East Lancashire so, as Mrs Rawlinson says, their new home in Sunderland will be a half-way point for both children.

She added: "I have enjoyed my work with Initiative Burnley very much and I will be sorry to have to leave before the project is completed.

"I have gained some very useful experience during my time here and I am sure it will stand me in good stead for my new post."

Mrs Rawlinson will take up her new post on December 2.

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