FENLANDER: Council secures �200k of EEDA funding for South Fens Business Centre expansion

THE South Fens Business Centre in Chatteris is set to expand this year with the creation of a new “Enterprise Space” next to the existing building.

Fenland District Council has just secured the �200,000 of extra funding from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) needed to build four new business units on the site. There is potential for more to be added in the future.

The scheme now just needs the go-ahead from FDC’s Planning Committee. It is expected to be considered next month. If approved, building will start in March with a projected completion in late summer or early autumn.

The expansion of South Fens is seen as a key element in the overall strategy to promote economic growth and regeneration in Fenland following the recession.

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.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s Open for Business portfolio holder, said: “The sort of businesses we hope to attract are high-value, manufacturing or precision engineering companies and Research & Development.

“This scheme will make a major contribution to our longer-term vision for South Fens, based on bringing in further inward investment that is geared towards attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce.”

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The creation of more skilled jobs is seen as vital for Fenland’s economic future. Currently many of the skilled workers who live in the district commute to jobs outside the area.

South Fens is regarded as an ideal location for the sort of businesses that can benefit from the nearby Fenland Engineering and Skills Centre and the easy access to the technological and academic base of Cambridge. Its accommodation is available at very competitive rates and it has excellent facilities and a sound business support network.

Cllr Seaton said: “The current squeeze on spending will inevitably result in the loss of jobs in the public and voluntary sectors. That means that more effort and resources must be directed towards supporting business development in order to deliver sustainable employment and economic growth. South Fens has a vital role to play in that.”

About �650,000 is being invested in the scheme - �250,000 from Fenland District Council and �200,000 each from Cambridgeshire County Council and EEDA. FDC is also providing the land, valued at �250,000.

Councillor Tony Orgee, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for growth and environment, said: “The Council is keen to support initiatives like this, using funding it has set aside to help the county’s economy recover from the recession.”

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