Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has restructured its senior management team.
Suzanne Caldwell has been appointed managing director following the retirement of chief executive Rob Johnston and Lesley Robinson takes on the new role of business support manager.
Suzanne, who was previously deputy chief executive, becomes the first woman to lead the influential business organisation.
In her 14 years with the chamber her role has included developing and running its business support activities, as part of this establishing Cumbria Business Growth Hub, to provide a single point of contact for business support in the county.
Suzanne said: “I was delighted to be offered the role of managing director, not least because it gives me the opportunity to do even more to support Cumbria’s businesses as we move forward, something I’ve been committed to for most of my working life.”
Prior to joining the chamber, she spent eight years at Business Link in Cumbria, latterly as part of the senior management team, managing marketing and communications and the advisers team.
During the foot and mouth crisis she managed the support for non-farming businesses, including a £20m-plus grant scheme.
She added: “Business support project delivery has grown hugely over my time with the chamber.
“I’m keen to grow our commercial activities alongside that, putting us in an even stronger position to work in the interests of Cumbria’s businesses.”
Lesley, who was previously growth hub Project manager, joins the senior management team and takes on overall responsibility for business support delivery.
She will oversee projects including the Business Start-Up Support Scheme (BSUS), Cumbria Growth Hub, Cumbria Growth Catalyst, Peer to Peer Networking, the New Enterprise Allowance scheme and more.
She will also develop them and create new initiatives for the future.
Her remit also includes developing existing and new partnerships with other business support providers and stakeholders, seeking to strengthen further the support available to business in the county and co-operative working.
In her 13 years at the chamber so far, Lesley has managed a range of projects such as the Growth Hub and BSUS Business Start-Up ERDF supported projects.
Under her management, £818,000 has been distributed in Kickstarting Tourism and Small Business Recovery grants, helping many people stay in business through the COVID-19 pandemic.