SENIOR councillors from Fenland District Council and representatives of other funding bodies gathered at the South Fens business centre in Chatteris on Wednesday for the official opening of the “Enterprise Space”, Phase 2 of the centre’s development.
Meanwhile, work has already begun on Phase 3.
The £770,000 Enterprise Space provides four extra units on the site, whose expansion is seen as a key element in the overall strategy to promote economic growth and regeneration in Fenland.
The aim is to attract new, high-quality, knowledge-based companies into the district and help the local economy diversify from its traditional reliance on agriculture and food processing. Serious interest in the new units has already been expressed by a variety of businesses.
Eight members of Fenland’s Cabinet were present for the opening ceremony: Alan Melton. John Clark, Peter Murphy, Kit Owen, Jan French, Ralph Butcher, Steve Garratt and David Oliver.
George Bennett from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Guy Mills and Dearbhla Lawson from Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), and Neil Ogden from GB Construction also attended, along with senior management from Fenland Council.
Funding for the Enterprise Space has come from Fenland (£350,000), EEDA (£220,000) and CCC (£200,000).
Phase 3 was given the go-ahead in August when Fenland’s Cabinet agreed to provide £410,000 from its capital budget, with a further £250,000 having been pledged by the county council. Fenland has also obtained another £80,000 from Cambridgeshire Horizons.
Councillor Alan Melton, council Leader, said: “This shows the extent to which we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is. One of the main aims set out in the big vision for Fenland over the next 20 years is to support and encourage economic growth and job creation and to broaden the local economy.
“Our business centres at South Fens and the Boathouse have a vital part to play in that by providing the sort of top quality accommodation and facilities that will attract high quality manufacturing and research and development into the district.”
Councillor Mathew Shuter, Cambridgeshire County Council’s portfolio holder for enterprise, said: “Cambridgeshire County Council is keen to promote locally, nationally and internationally that the county is open for business.
“This means encouraging the growth of companies across the county and especially in rural areas such as Fenland where a prosperous economy has real benefits for the local community. We are pleased to provide further support for this next phase of expansion of South Fens. This will give a further boost to the economy in this part of the county.”
George Bennett from EEDA said: “We’re delighted to have played our part in enabling this important expansion of South Fens. It will undoubtedly help to attract the new investment and extra skilled jobs that are vital for Fenland’s economic future and it will be a lasting legacy for the work of EEDA.”
Work on Phase 3 began on October 3, with a completion target of mid-March next year.