Monday, May 10, 2021

£1.75m initiative launched to attract businesses into Derby city centre

A £1.75 million initiative has been launched by Derby City Council to encourage more businesses to locate in the heart of Derby.

The authority wants to work with businesses that will bring high-quality jobs into the city centre, as well as owners of vacant buildings, to repurpose redundant space for new economic uses, including offices and apartments.

Through the new scheme, the Council recently supported IT company Bam Boom Cloud to move its global headquarters to Derby, bringing almost 100 high-value jobs to the city centre. Now, the authority is making funding available to attract others to follow suit.

David Fletcher, Director of City Development and Growth at Derby City Council, said that the Bam Boom Cloud relocation met both of the initiative’s key aims.

“Bam Boom Cloud will bring high-value, knowledge-based employment into the city centre and breathe new life into a beautiful, listed building which has been empty for years; it’s the perfect example of what we’re aiming to achieve through this inward investment initiative.

“The move will help diversify our local economy, enhance the street scene and improve vibrancy. We now hope to attract further jobs into the city centre and achieve new uses for more of our vacant properties,” he said.

The Council is looking to support businesses that will bring at least ten jobs to the city centre, and is able to offer assistance with rent, business rates, training, marketing, parking or office fit-out costs.

For repurposing of buildings, the initiative can fund up to 100 per cent of feasibility studies and up to 50 per cent of capital costs for repurposing, renovation, and conversion.

The authority has just agreed to support Manston Investments with a feasibility study to explore future uses for its empty former Bennett’s building on Iron Gate.

Applications will be considered from businesses proposing to generate employment anywhere within the city boundaries, but weighting will be given to those targeting the city centre and those whose plans will help diversify the high street. The authority aims to allocate its funding by March 2022.

Commenting on the scheme John Forkin, Managing Director of inward investment agency Marketing Derby, said: “We are seeking to repurpose the city centre by encouraging the return of business and investment. People want to see a dynamic and vibrant city and this fund provides us with a unique opportunity to support new jobs and investment in making that happen. Early interest has been incredibly positive.”

Financing for the project has been provided from the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant and will complement the £5 million Ascend business support programme, already announced by the Council. The Ascend programme supports existing local companies to scale up and take on more staff by assisting with the development and implementation of growth plans and securing investments.

The £1.75 million inward investment initiative forms part of the city’s economic recovery strategy; developed to help the city build back better as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Fletcher said the authority was determined to help the city prepare for the post-pandemic future that would involve changes to the way people live, work, shop and spend their leisure time.

“Our comprehensive recovery strategy is built on instilling confidence amongst businesses and investors, diversifying our local economy and de-carbonising,” he said.

“We aim to build back better and differently. We have already had some major wins, such as persuading SmartParc to build a high-tech food campus, which will create up to 5,000 jobs. But we remain focussed on doing everything possible to make Derby a fantastic place to live, visit and do business.

“We want our city centre, in particular, to be attractive and vibrant, with more homes, high quality employment, brilliant cultural, leisure and retail offerings and we want to improve our public areas and make the most of our attractive and historic buildings. This new programme of support will help us to achieve those ambitions.”

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