Stafford’s Business Enterprise Centre has already welcomed its first tenants who have signed up to the flexible licence and any interested businesses are being urged to get in touch.
Stafford Chambers of Commerce is among the first occupants to move into this exciting new business centre which is an interesting mix of historic building and modern office space.
The Shire Hall Business Centre in Stafford’s Market Square has benefitted from a £2m fit out.
A total of £1.6million was allocated to the project from the national Getting Building Fund through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Both the county council and Stafford Borough Council have also invested in the centre. It is in the area at the rear of the building which used to accommodate the town’s main library.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Alun Rogers said:
“The Getting Building Fund is aimed at projects which are ready to go and can make a difference as soon as possible. Our investment in the transformation of the former library space in the Shire Hall into an enterprise and collaboration hub will help us meet the needs and demands of modern business operations and support local start-ups.
“It is our ambition that the new business hub will provide the right environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish, and we look forward to seeing a thriving centre at the heart of Stafford.”
Like the county council’s other enterprise centres, it offers office space, reception facilities, meeting areas, networking opportunities and business advice and support. The units range from 97 sqft to 323 sqft and there are flexible working options including hot desking and the option to rent a PO Box.
Centre management is based in the building and there will also be out-of-hours security patrols. The centre offers an ideal town centre location, close to amenities like the railway station and cafes.
Any businesses wanting to find out more about unit costs and availability, or that want to book a viewing, should contact Samantha Neal, centre administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:
“It’s fantastic to see the Shire Hall open for business and with the first tenants already making the most of the superb facilities.
“Having the Shire Hall open again as a thriving business centre is exciting for Stafford and will play an important part in the wider regeneration of the town. It is an iconic landmark in the heart of Stafford town centre and we’re pleased to have brought it back into productive use for the community.
“Much consideration has gone into the planning of the hall’s use as a business centre and our evidence and research has shown there is a need for provision in the town for small and start-up companies. It follows the model of our other enterprise centres with flexible tenancies and a support team on site.
“This project has been a real success story and we’ve worked closely with colleagues at the LEP and borough council to make it happen. The renovation of the Shire Hall will complement other projects across Stafford including the Eastgate plans, Market Square refurbishment, Gateway project and high street regeneration.”
Bringing part of the Shire Hall back into productive use will help revitalise Stafford town centre by bringing in new businesses. This project will form part of the wider long-term regeneration of the Shire Hall. It will also complement plans to repurpose and redevelop land occupied by vacant buildings – including the former magistrates court and county council’s own Wedgwood Building – off Eastgate Street.
Frances Beatty, cabinet member for economic development and planning at Stafford Borough Council, said:
“We’re pleased to see the renovation of the Shire Hall is now complete. This will be a centrepiece for the renaissance of popular community events and gatherings in the Market Square and indeed across the town. The Shire Hall forms an integral part of the wider work that the borough council is leading on – including the Station Gateway and regeneration of the town centre.”
Stafford MP Theo Clarke said:
“When I was elected, it was one of my pledges that the Shire Hall would be reopened, and I was determined that this would happen. I am delighted to have delivered on this pledge after two and a half years for us all to be here today. I am especially pleased that, despite people telling me that it couldn’t be done, we are here today reopening this iconic building in the heart of Stafford.
“As a former entrepreneur and small business owner, I am also really encouraged that a business enterprise centre will be the centre and the start of the regeneration of this great building and the start of the regeneration of our high street. We need to be encouraging new businesses to establish themselves in our high streets in order to breathe new life into them, and that’s also why this project is so important.”