Shrewsbury’s £3.5 million Rural Enterprise Centre celebrated its official opening this week with news that more than 100 people are employed at the Battlefields site.
The facility, which has been developed in partnership with Advantage West Midlands’ Rural Regeneration Zone and Evans Easyspace, currently houses more than 32 young businesses, ranging from lift maintenance experts and a technology specialist to a cafe and on-site gym.
The venture was first set up six months ago but was made official by a visit from Mayor of Shrewsbury Alan Townsend, who had a guided tour and discussed with a number of tenants the benefits of being based in the 28,000 sq ft centre.
He officially opened the building by unveiling a plaque with Evans Easyspace’s managing director Tom Stokes.
“We need to do everything we can in Shrewsbury to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies and this rural enterprise centre is a fantastic way of supporting local business,” explained Councillor Townsend.
He added: “There is a genuine feeling of pride shown by the tenants when I was speaking with them and the fact that 100 new jobs have been created at the height of one of the worst recessions in decades shows what you can achieve when you create the right conditions for enterprise.”
The £3.5 million site, which offers a mix of office and workshop space over 52 units, is part of a larger network of enterprise centres currently being developed by Advantage West Midlands and Evans Easyspace.
There are two main hubs – one at Battlefields and one in Rotherwas, Hereford – with two smaller spokes also open and operational at Leominster and Ludlow. Combined. The four facilities are home to 63 businesses.
Ian Edwards, team leader at the Rural Regeneration Zone, said he was delighted to see the uptake the project had attracted.
Mr Edwards said: “This public-private sector partnership has never been completed in this way before, but you can tell from the four existing centres that there is a real demand in the marketplace for affordable, high quality, high spec, enterprise space.
“We are now looking at moving forward the four additional spokes at Bridgnorth, Market Drayton, Oswestry and Ross-on-Wye as soon as possible.”
Evans Easyspace’s Tom Stokes said: “The facilities are impressive but it is the added benefits of being here which are proving so attractive. For example, the ability to inter-trade, the access to external support form and the easy-in easy-out leases which gives young businesses unrivalled flexibility.”
When full, the 28,000 sq ft Rural Enterprise Centre will be responsible for creating 200 jobs in the local economy, if targets are reached.
Rachael Peters, of the enterprise centre, added: “In the current climate it is more important than ever that we encourage new businesses to start and young companies to grow.
“The Rural Enterprise Centre in Shrewsbury has created an environment that combines the best facilities with access to the best business support and inter-trading opportunities,” she added.
“We have also worked hard to develop a flexible licensing option, which encourages firms to take the next step in their development without being tied down to a long-term lease.”