Mich Stevenson to chair Nottingham's Creative Quarter board
NOTTINGHAM businessman Mich Stevenson is to chair the Creative Quarter board, the jewel in Nottingham City Council's economic growth plan. The idea of a Creative Quarter, the focus for a package of concerted business development activity to enable entrepreneurship to flourish, was hammered out as part of the City Deal strategy agreed with the Government during the summer.
It is focused on an area which has the Lace Market at its core but extends north to Lower Parliament Street and east to BioCity Nottingham in Pennyfoot Street.
Mr Stevenson initiated the Lace Market Heritage Trust and has successfully chaired the trust which manages the Nottingham Ice Arena.
He was also the chairman of Profile Nottingham, the tourist destination body which became Experience Nottinghamshire.
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Mr Stevenson said part of his role as chairman was to bring all interested parties to the table "so we get off to a solid start".
He said that the heritage trust had seen the restoration of difficult buildings, finding new uses for them.
The Creative Quarter took this a stage further, nurturing business which move into the quarter and nearby.
"I hope this will be the fulcrum for a lot of re-thinking about the way we look to develop business in its widest form – innovation, imagination and training.
"It will start in the Lace Market but grow bigger. It has to start somewhere.
"This is a great chance."
Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for skills, jobs and business on the city council, welcomed the appointment.
"Mr Stevenson has a long and impressive record as an entrepreneur. He cares deeply about the city, and I know he will bring both experience and fresh ideas to the Creative Quarter.
"We intend to make more appointments over the coming months to further strengthen the team."
A package of investment funds will be made available, supplemented by business support structures and connections to bespoke apprentices.
The plan is to install superfast broadband, low-carbon energy links and provide a business-led regeneration of a significant area.
The aspiration is that the Creative Quarter will become a powerhouse of business growth and economic development.
One of the ideas is that the success of BioCity, a successful incubator for life science businesses, can be transferred to other industries and sectors.
Councillor McDonald said: "What will make the creative quarter successful is the right mix of experience and youthful enthusiasm.
"We will have on the board a good mix of both.
"We have some fantastic, entrepreneurial, game-changing individuals."
Councillor McDonald said that the board would include members who understood Nottingham and could open doors, particularly those who understand property in the Creative Quarter.
"Part of the strategy is about filling empty units, regenerating the area and bringing in businesses, creating more vibrancy."
Councillor McDonald said that Mr Stevenson would bring many qualities including experience, knowledge of the property scene and connections.
He added: "His role will be to ensure he has a coherent team proving links between the board, the council and partners and keep the vision ambitious while pushing us all to give our contribution in the best way we can."
Councillor McDonald added that the board would have access to cash to benefit businesses.
"There will be a need for more funding, the board and the company will have an operating budget and a chief executive will be appointed. There will be money for additional projects such as physical regeneration.
"Not all the money is there now but the board will identify gaps and will be part of the strategy getting those funds in.
"This is the start of a long-term project."
A preferential business rate might be agreed for new firms in the Creative Quarter
"One of the pledges to Government under City Deal was that we would look at the business rate structure in the Creative Quarter.
"The business rate would be used as a way of encouraging firms to come into the area."
Next month, Mr Stevenson will host a visit to the Lace Market by European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani.
He is responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.
Accompanied by EU officials, he will learn more about developments in the Creative Quarter.