City council leaders have welcomed the £2.8 million cash injection from the Government’s Getting Building Fund to deliver jobs and skills and support the economy across Stoke-on-Trent.
They have responded to news of a successful bid on the council’s behalf by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP), which has secured £23.7 million across the whole county.
In Stoke-on-Trent, £2.8 million will be invested in refurbishing underused commercial properties currently in council ownership. The money will be used to quickly repurpose them to become flexible spaces for business start-ups, innovation and enterprise centres and even companies looking to temporarily downsize as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. A number of potential buildings have been identified for the scheme and could include Longton Town Hall (first floor), Swift House (Stoke), building five at Spode Works (Stoke), CoRE (Centre of Refurbishment Excellence, Longton) and the ground floor of Clayworks (Hanley).
The city council and private sector partners will add a further £1.5 million to the Government funding, creating a total cashpot of £4.3 million to carry out the work – helping to fuel the city’s economic recovery from coronavirus. The scheme could potentially create up to 420 new jobs, 120 business start-ups and 30 construction jobs.
Cllr Abi Brown, leader of the city council and SSLEP board member, said: “This funding is great news for the city and its economic recovery. It will mean we can begin to rebuild from coronavirus, with a clear acknowledgement that the way people access and use workspaces will change over the next few years. It is vital that there is a supply of modern, quality and digitally enabled floor space in the city and this funding will go a long way towards that.
“We have some fantastic commercial properties in our ownership with huge potential. The funding will allow us to quickly transform them with flexible offers that are both affordable and accessible to business, providing a real shot in the arm as we power up the city.”
Cllr Janine Bridges, cabinet member for economy, said: “It’s important to remember the city’s economy was in a good place before the pandemic, with employment growth named as the fastest in the UK in a recent report. One thing we were experiencing was a growing demand for small to medium sized incubators for start-ups, so this funding has come at an absolutely perfect time.
“This will help get the city back on track and we will certainly be making the most of this fantastic opportunity. Having flexible business space that allows us to respond to changing work conditions and new ways of working will be a real asset for the city.”
Alun Rogers, chair of the SSLEP, said: “I am delighted that the SSLEP was able to secure this funding from Government which will make a considerable difference to how the city bounces back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is about building back better, building back greener and faster and accelerating how quickly businesses, the economy and residents will benefit from these great initiatives. I look forward to working with the city council and partners to complete these projects at pace for the benefit of everyone.”
Elsewhere in the city. Stoke-on-Trent College has secured £370,000 from the Getting Building Fund for a creative industries project and digital and construction skills project.