In the zone for business success

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HARTLEPOOL issued a “come and see what we’ve got” offer as it showed off its top-class business premises.

An open day was held at Queens Meadow Business Park to show off the facilities available to firms thinking of moving on to the town’s section of the new enterprise zone.

Queens Meadow is the home of both the Innovation Centre and the nearby units offered by developers Rivergreen.

The open day was part of the battle to persuade firms to invest, and campaigners think it might just be paying off.

Tees Valley Unlimited’s enterprise zone project manager, Fergus Mitchell, said interest in Queens Meadow was coming from firms in an area stretching from Northumberland in the north to Yorkshire in the south.

He said the Hartlepool open day was a local affair, but it was being replicated in other areas of the Tees Valley “to build on the base of business forums where we can promote the enterprise zone”.

Mr Mitchell said there was interest from smaller sized firms in the business rate relief packages which were available on sites including Queens Meadow.

Firms locating on these sites can benefit from business property rate tax relief of up to £55,000 per year.

But Queens Meadow is not the only area attracting interest.

On the larger sites, firms can enjoy enhanced capital allowance where large-scale occupiers get allowances against the cost of their plant and machinery.

Those sites include the port area of Hartlepool.

Mr Mitchell added: “There are companies out there that we are talking to.

“As part of the offer for Hartlepool, we have the port estate for large businesses and we have had a fair amount of interest for that site.

“There are companies that we are talking to who would locate within a port facility.”

Hartlepool Borough Council economic development officer Israr Hussain said: “The whole point of this is to raise awareness, in particular about what is on offer in terms of incentives and the chance to see what is available both in the Innovation Centre and the Rivergreen Units as well.

“It is very early days to gauge the interest, but there is some potential.

“We would hope that would generate some industry for Hartlepool, the Tees Valley and the wider area.”

Simon Hamilton, regional manager for UK Steel Enterprise which runs the Innovation Centre, said: “We are trying to pull in people from outside the Tees Valley.”

And Mick Emerson, the principal economic development officer (business services) for the Economic Regeneration Team at Hartlepool Borough Council, said the whole idea of the day was to show company representatives what was available, in a relaxed way.