More than 1,000 jobs are already being secured at the UK’s first Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone – in just six months.
Expressions of interest have also been received from more than 40 other businesses about moving onto the site – with the potential to provide a further huge boost to the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire economy.
The news came as the official launch of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone took place at the Moat House Hotel, on Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent on October 7.
The Ceramic Valley is one of only 44 Enterprise Zones across the country and is designed to accelerate growth in a range of employment sectors. It comprises four million square feet of commercial floor space – the equivalent of 250 football pitches – and has the potential for 9,000 jobs. The zone covers six key sites along the A500 corridor – five of which are in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Councillor Abi Brown, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s deputy leader, and chair of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone Board, said: “We know the potential of the Enterprise Zone is huge, and the success in attracting businesses so far is fantastic. This has come through really close work with developers from a very early stage to understand their needs, as well as wide spread and innovative ways of promoting the benefits that it has to offer – this includes at international ceramic trade shows and even advertising on a local haulage company’s trucks.
“This hard work is paying off, and the interest we have received from national and international businesses is really positive. It clearly demonstrates the confidence that is growing in the local economy.
“There is interest in all six sites, and strong progress is already being made at Etruria Valley and at Highgate Ravensdale – where construction and visual signs of development are clear. Parcel delivery company DPD and carvery restaurant Brindley Farm are already on site and operational at Etruria Valley and Tile Mountain is building a distribution hub at Highgate Ravensdale.
“Current and proposed activity across the Enterprise Zone will already account for more than 1,000 jobs – with another 8,000 to come. This is great news for the local workforce and proves that businesses are recognising the benefits that investing in the area will bring.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “The Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone is a flagship project for the LEP and we are delighted with the amount of national and international interest this launch event is generating.
“The Enterprise Zone is good news for our economy in stimulating inward investment, driving business growth and creating more and better jobs for local people. It is a very strong marketing tool, strengthening the reputation of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as a great location with excellent transport links, an enthusiastic workforce and a positive, forward-thinking approach to innovation and growth.”
Enterprise Zone status helps to reduce the costs and barriers to business growth, making the site a real pull for international investors. The six areas will regenerate largely brownfield land, with the potential for many multi-million pound investments over the next decade.
Benefits to businesses include a significant rate reduction over a five year period on five of the sites, enhanced capital allowances at the Etruria Valley site, and in certain circumstances, gap funding can be considered to support development.
The official launch event was attended by more than 200 investors, developers, government officials and business leaders and included a presentation by prominent government advisor Jackie Sadek, chief executive of UK Regeneration, who has followed regeneration in the city for a number of years.
The event also showcased the new Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone app, which includes interactive digital content and news updates, with video footage and overhead images of the site.
Councillor Elizabeth Shenton, leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone is a major step forward in North Staffordshire’s offer to businesses looking to relocate. It includes a significant site in the Chatterley Valley, within the borough boundary, which will benefit from excellent road links via the Tunstall by-pass and the A500.
“There has been interest from potential developers and discussions are on-going.”
Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “The Chatterley Valley West site adds to the portfolio of prime business development sites in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. We will progress the delivery of the supporting infrastructure to the site – making it ready for business as soon as possible.
“With the potential for one million square feet of commercial space, business rate relief because of the Enterprise Zone status and excellent connectivity, it’s already attracting significant interest. The site will bring huge benefits locally, ensuring all business rates generated are retained by the local enterprise partnership.”
Abi Brown, David Frost and Jackie Sadek are pictured at the launch event.