A scheme which has given a major boost to Barnard Castle town centre has been recognised at the Teesdale Business Awards 2012. The Barnard Castle Vision Retail Improvement Programme was given a Special Award at a recent ceremony. Deborah Jenkins, chair of Barnard Castle Vision, thanked everyone who had supported the scheme, including local businesses and partner organisations.
She said: “We’re thrilled to receive this special award. “It recognises not only our efforts in making Barnard Castle a vibrant and attractive town centre but those of our partners and local businesses who have also invested their money, time and energy into the town. “This award is as much for them as it is for our scheme and everyone involved should be proud of what we have achieved together.” The programme was set up in 2008 and has since invested more than £270,000 in grants – which in turn led to businesses investing an additional £296,000 – helped more than 50 local firms and supported 13 new enterprises. Its aim is to improve the appearance and attractiveness of the town centre and to help boost the local retail economy. Funding for the work has come from One North East, up until 2010, and from Durham County Council after 2010. The scheme has brought additional benefits with the creation of 29 full-time equivalent posts within the 13 new businesses which have received support and opportunities for local contractors to carry out work to improve premises. It has also helped to reduce the number of empty shops in the town and transformed one such site into a shop share, giving starter businesses the chance to take their first steps into retail.
A further £10,000 investment will bring additional benefits following the announcement by the Government last month that the Barney Guild Town Team has been given Town Team Partner status. Being a partner will enable the town team to tap into support and share expertise with partners in other parts of the country and the funding will enable the team to put some of its plans into practice. Following the announcement the town team is now working on setting up an website, giving local shops the chance to sell their goods online and providing information and links to other local businesses, services and tourism website.
NeST has confirmed its ties with DigitalCity by signing a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and appointing a Satellite Animateur to assist member businesses.
Dr Anne Allen of Barnard Castle Vision signed the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ along with Mark Elliott, CEO of DigitalCity Business. It confirms NeST as the first rural satellite to DigitalCity. DigitalCity in Middlesbrough is home to a digital and creative supercluster which is fast earning a worldwide reputation for nurturing digital media, digital technology and creative innovation and businesses under its Garages to Global initiative.
The resulting investment in businesses in Teesdale is worth £100,000 in the coming two years. There will be a programme of business growth workshops as well as one to one coaching sessions and business surgeries. Members will also be invited to a range of networking events both in Barnard Castle, and at DigitalCity in Middlesbrough at its flagship BoHo One building, and its other ‘satellites’ in Redcar, and in Stockton. Workshops have already been conducted with Keith Moss, a photographer who is highly regarded as a mentor and photographic industry trainer. An ongoing schedule of workshops will be prepared to meet members’ requests, as well as networking opportunities for home-based businesses in rural Teesdale.
Dr Anne Allen commented: “We’re hoping that the coaching and networking available through NeST’s links with DigitalCity will open doors for any number of our small enterprises. The focus is on developing and connecting small private sector businesses. The result could potentially be complementary businesses working together. There is the possibility of members winning and delivering contracts together or new connections could lead to businesses expanding into new areas. Ultimately, we’re committed to helping our members grow their turnover and their reputation.”
Mark Elliott added: “The DigitalCity Barnard Castle Satellite is a really exciting development for us. A lot of people might think that digital is something essentially urban, but it’s not, and there’s no reason why digital and creative businesses can’t thrive in a rural setting. So we’re really pleased Barnard Castle wanted to join up with us. We’ve just appointed our new Director of Cluster Development, Mark South, and I know he’s raring to get going on what we think is the very first rural digital development of its kind anywhere. Added to the other exciting developments such as Digital Dale, it makes Barnard Castle a place to watch.”
DigitalCity Business has appointed Eva Zandman as its Satellite Animateur, or assistant, based in NeST, Barnard Castle. Eva currently has her photography business, Eva Zandman Photography, in the studio in NeST. She will be responsible for recruiting member businesses to NeST and working with those businesses to create a schedule of workshops and seminars to assist them in meeting their aspirations for growth.
Eva said: “Membership of NeST is growing by the week. I will be working with members, bringing in mentors and coaches to help them deliver to their true potential, organising networking events and bringing members together so they can meet, encourage one another and maintain momentum for their businesses. Anyone who would like to find out more is welcome to visit NeST, meet myself and other members and find out more about how NeST membership can assist their business.”
Anyone interested in NeST memberships should contact Eva Zandman by email at email@example.com or by calling 07723 097447. Members can use the hot-desking space, both at NeST and Enterprise House on Harmire Business Park, Barnard Castle. Membership also includes access to equipment including cameras, projectors and software.
Members can participate in any workshops, seminars or networking events taking place both at NeST Barnard Castle and the other DigitalCity linked hot-desking spaces. DigitalCity currently has hot-desking business space at BoHo One in Middlesbrough. Space can also be rented for meetings.
Barnard Castle Vision, the project responsible for economic regeneration in Barnard Castle, transformed the disused garage into NeST gallery, cafeteria and workhub. Funding has come from Durham County Council, Single Programme Funding direct from One North East, and a North Pennine Dales LEADER grant, obtained through the Rural Development Programme for England, jointly funded by Defra and the European Union and managed by One North East. The 2010-12 DigitalCity Business project is funded by ERDF, Single Programme, Middlesbrough and Stockton Council and Barnard Castle Vision.
Barnard Castle Vision has produced an Investment Guide to inform business owners of the benefits of locating in Barnard Castle.
The 12-part investment guide provides information for businesses of varying sizes from one-man start-ups to large enterprises requiring industrial premises. It also includes information relevant to retailers, creative industries, hoteliers, restaurateurs and food-related businesses, highlighting the plans for a regional food hall in the Witham Hall.
The guide gives information about the range of business property available, and the potential for development of part of Shaw Bank as a purpose-built business facility. It also highlights the easily accessibility from Barnard Castle to major motorway routes to the East and West of the UK, as well as the proximity of mainline rail, airports and ports.
An additional benefit for businesses is the broadband provision, and the Investment Guide gives information about the Digital Teesdale project which will bring high speed broadband to business and homes throughout Teesdale.
Deborah Jenkins, chair of Barnard Castle Vision, commented: “Barnard Castle is one of the most beautiful parts of the country to live and work and we’re keen to make sure business leaders are aware of the benefits of locating a business here. There are beautiful places to live, excellent education facilities and easy commutes without long morning and evening traffic jams. There is also very good support from organisations including The South Durham Enterprise Agency and, through NeST, from Digital City.”
The Investment Guide was first introduced at North East Expo 2010, at Newcastle Racecourse in November. As well as discussing business location requirements with delegates, a team from Barnard Castle Vision invited people to enter a ‘business card draw’ to win a hamper of food and drink locally produced in Teesdale. The winner was Louise Moore of Moreish Foods, a cup-cake company based in Norton near Stockton on Tees.
Annalisa Ward, who represented the Vision at North East Expo, commented: “Numerous businesses were interested in what makes Barnard Castle a unique business location. Moreish Foods was one of several food-related businesses which showed interest in the development of a regional food hall. Louise’s entrepreneurial spirit has seen her transform a passion for food into a rapidly expanding business. We’re hoping to encourage and support more entrepreneurs in following their dreams like Louise, and building their business in here in Teesdale.”