The diversity of Lancashire’s economy will provide strong foundations upon which to grow, according to a leading business advisor.

Ginni Cooper, Corporate Services Director at chartered accountants and business advisors Moore and Smalley, said the county benefited from the strong manufacturing base which prevented its decline when the powerhouse service industry dipped.

However, he added that even greater emphasis needed to be placed on boosting exports across both sectors to ensure growth picked up after a weak start to the year.

Moore and Smalley, which is headquartered in Preston city centre with office in Blackpool and Lancaster, is among the sponsors of one of Lancashire’s top business awards, the Be Inspired Business Awards or The BIBAs.

The annual prize-giving ceremony, which hands out 19 prizes to the leading lights of the county’s business community, takes place in September with its finalists due to be announced next week (June 2).

Ginni Cooper said: “Lancashire’s manufacturing sector has traditionally been very strong in comparison with other parts of the county which has always given it added stability.

“There are many parts of the regional economy which rely heavily on services and often very specific parts of that sector, so when those areas struggle, the whole economy struggles.

“At present there are issues which have a short term impact, but these are indicative of a difficult national and global climate than any specific problem in Lancashire.

“Our diverse economy has given us strength, jobs and investment for generations and I have every confidence it will continue to do so.”

The first round of interviews for the BIBAs have now been completed with the panel for the prestigious Business of the Year meeting last Thursday to select its finalists.

The shortlisted firms will be notified later this week with full details made available next week.

It follows a 10-day period of interviews carried out by judging panels made up of leading lights of the county’s business economy.

Former BIBA winner Stephen Lancaster, of The Grand Venue in Clitheroe, sat on the judging panel for the Most Inspiring Business of the Year category.

The award was introduced last year to celebrate businesses whose successes did not fit in to other categories.

He said: “The calibre of applicants received for this category of the BIBAs has been fantastic.

“Our category has different criteria by which it judges its applicants as we are looking for those firms who provide huge benefit to our community.

“I am confident that when we select our winner, they will be a business which is a true inspiration to our county.”

All finalists will receive a visit from the awards judges, starting from June 8, as the panels go ‘on tour’ around finalists’ business premises to get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes them tick.