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East Midlands Chamber News

Creative Quarter Regeneration Picks Up Pace

Loans totalling £78,000 to help businesses thrive are heralding the next stage of development for Nottingham’s dynamic Creative Quarter initiative.

Since April four diverse businesses have been attracted to or are expanding in the Creative Quarter, creating 10 jobs with up to 30 more to come, thanks to the Creative Quarter Loan Fund. The four are made up of one new business, one that has relocated from London plus two existing Nottingham businesses. Recent months has seen other new growth in the area, an eclectic mix of new businesses such as Natural Kitchen, Twenty Five, Little White Dress and The Boilermaker Bar have opened recently - all helping to regenerate the Creative Quarter.
Since the arrival of Kathy McArdle, Chief Operations Officer of the Creative Quarter Company in May, a number of new initiatives have been put in place to boost Creative Quarter activity, including:

  • Establishing a new base for the Creative Quarter team on Beck Street thanks to Confetti Media to help Kathy McArdle and the team develop direct dialogue with businesses in the area
  • Bringing empty or underused properties back into use for enterprise purposes by developing a Property Strategy for the Creative Quarter area which is now underway and which is expected to be complete by the end of October this year
  • Launching a new website in the autumn, following a competition for local creative agencies. This interactive site will create a one-stop-shop for new and existing businesses in the area as well as residents and visitors alike. Providing detailed information and support it will offer a comprehensive central resource
  • Hosting the first "Creative Conversation" event to discuss and help shape the Creative Quarter was oversubscribed. Another is already planned for August to accommodate the level of interest from local Creative Quarter based businesses
  • The Creative Quarter encompasses The Lace Market and Hockley as well as Sneinton Market and the Island Site. Many of Nottingham’s emerging growth sector businesses are already situated here and it is where new creative businesses are being encouraged to locate to help entrepreneurship to flourish within the heart of Nottingham’s city centre.

The four businesses which have benefitted from the Creative Quarter Loan Fund includes digital media company ICN, which moved from London in order to expand, helped by a £25,000 loan. The company employs 5 staff and hopes to increase that to 30 over the next 3 years. Already based in the Creative Quarter, White Collar Zoo streams live gigs and music in high definition from live music venues across the UK every week. They employ 10 staff and have been given a £25,000 loan to help bring live music to those who sometimes struggle to get to live gigs. The business also provides a platform to support the best in new emerging and acclaimed musicians, film makers, artists, and producers.

Alaa “Alex” Aslam was awarded an £18,000 loan to open up ‘Olive’ a new Mediterranean café on Heathcoat Street, which successfully opened mid-July with support from The Renewal Trust. Video and film production company 9Zen, which provides music artists with bespoke video portfolios to use on promotional websites, has been awarded a loan of £10,000. With artists such as Jake Bugg drawing national attention to Nottingham’s burgeoning music scene the loan will enable the business to increase its breadth of services.

Cllr Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for Jobs, Skills and Business, said: "The Creative Quarter – Nottingham’s flagship project for economic growth, enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit - is the cornerstone of The Nottingham Growth Plan and is at an exciting phase of its development. The vision for the Creative Quarter is to support existing local businesses as well as encouraging new enterprises to Nottingham to create jobs and bring wealth to help the city’s economy.

“The range of emerging and available support will help to achieve that and is welcome news for the local economy and the employment market and it’s great to see the loans being used by such a diverse group of businesses. The Creative Quarter Loan Fund is just one project of many that will deliver the objectives of The Nottingham Growth Plan."

Chair of the Nottingham Creative Quarter Company, Mich Stevenson OBE, said: “The aim of the Creative Quarter initiative is to create an energetic environment where businesses will flourish in the historic heart of Nottingham. We have now reached an exciting point in meeting our ambitions for the area. The Property Strategy for the Creative Quarter in particular is another major initiative that is now being developed and will help rejuvenate the area. For me, imagination and innovation is the key. All of the elements are now being put into place to help make things happen. The Creative Quarter Loan Fund and all of the other activities demonstrate that The Creative Quarter is bursting into life.”

The £1m pound Creative Quarter Loan Fund is managed by First Enterprise Business Agency and loans of £500 to £25,000 will be available over the next five to 10 years. The loans offer a preferential rate to both new start-ups and existing businesses based within the Creative Quarter. This new Creative Quarter Loan Fund will help fill a gap in the lower end of the finance ladder before companies can graduate onto larger scale investment.