The Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre on Chesterfield’s donut roundabout was officially opened with a small ceremony on Wednesday, July 13.
The flagship centre – designed to help new businesses start and established firms grow in the town – has already welcomed its first tenants, with more set to arrive in the coming weeks.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “It’s absolutely fabulous. It’s building on the success of our Tapton Park and Dunston Innovation Centres, so we know it’s a proven model.
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“There are 300 businesses that have benefited from the support there, and 500 people are employed by the businesses that started off at those centres. We really believe that this is a model that is going to be successful for growing businesses in Chesterfield and growing footfall in the town centre.
“The tenants that I've spoken to said that they’re glad to be back in an office. They still give flexibility for their staff to work from home, but there’s at least a couple of points a week where the whole team are in together, as team building is better done in person.
“The great thing about this centre is that it is staffed by CBC staff, so everyone will get a really warm, friendly welcome – whether that’s existing tenants and their customers or people who are just on the cusp of starting their own business.
“The centre will have a dedicated business advisor employed by CBC, and the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce will have their business advice team based here as well. This means people can come in and access the help they need to start up a business, and existing companies can get advice as well.”
The Enterprise Centre includes 32 office suites in a range of sizes, all of which are fitted with the latest hi-tech features that are now standard requirements for modern businesses.
It has conferencing facilities that enable businesses to host hybrid meetings, as well as secure cycle parking and shower facilities – allowing tenants to bike to work and supporting low carbon transport options. Other features include meeting and break-out rooms where businesses can network with their fellow tenants.
Andy Dabbs is a board director at Whittam Cox – the architects behind the project. He said that the Enterprise Centre was a remarkable achievement – especially in the face of several significant complications.
“I think it's been an absolutely tremendous success given the constraints of the external factors we’ve had to deal with.
“This project had a very challenging start. Coming into this on the back end of a recession, and then the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic. We also had an archeological dig and a huge amount of stakeholders.
“You need a huge amount of resilience to see a project like this through, and the leadership of the local authority has driven this.”
Andy added that the development would not simply benefit its tenants – but would help the revitalisation of Chesterfield’s town centre and boost footfall for local businesses.
“This started for Whittam Cox back in 2016, and it isn’t just a building – it is a catalyst for regeneration and change. It’s a scheme which shows how you knit an existing building into the fabric of the urban environment. That’s essential for a town like Chesterfield – to not only develop opportunities but to link it to the wider town.
“We’re very proud to be a practice based in Chesterfield, and we have been for over 50 years now. Many towns struggle with retention of talent, with people going to university and not coming back as the employment opportunities just aren’t there.
“The more we can generate projects like this, it creates that retention of talent, as it brings in quality employers and quality opportunity. This in turn supports the diversity of demographic and footfall that successful towns need.
“This is about the long-term development of the town, and the destination and place we believe Chesterfield is moving towards becoming – which we hope will meet the aspirations of the local authority and the residents.”
Roaring Mouse – a PR and content consultancy who have been based in Chesterfield since they were founded ten years ago – were the first business to move into the building.
James Taylor, the company’s founder and managing director, said the development was a real positive for the town – and something that he wanted Roaring Mouse to be involved in.
“We moved in on July 1, which was the earliest opportunity for us. I think the Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre says something really positive about Chesterfield. It’s a stylish, contemporary, professional building and I think it also says something positive about the businesses that choose to be here.
“We wanted to be in an office space that would impress our customers, our prospects and our people. We wanted an environment that justifies the commute, where people can come together, do their best work and be inspired to create the kinds of game-changing campaigns that make a difference for our clients.”
Jim Burnham – contract manager for Woodhead Construction and site manager throughout the build process – said they were already receiving positive feedback from tenants.
“Despite the challenges we’ve all faced over the last couple of years, it’s great to see the tenants finally moving in – we’ve met some already and they’re really impressed with it.
“It’s great for local businesses to have these facilities available, and to get people back into the office – especially in the heart of Chesterfield.”
If you are considering basing your business at the centre, contact the Enterprise Chesterfield team by calling 01246 903 900 or emailing [email protected].