The continuing regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent has led to the city being recognized in the European Cities of the Future Awards. Stoke-on-Trent was named one of the top ten cities for inward investment, economic growth and business expansion in the micro cities category. It was also praised for its transport links and business connections across the continent. The micro cities section covers cities with populations of less than 250,000.
The recognition rewards the steps the city has already taken to reinvent itself following the decline of its traditional industries. This ongoing commitment will see a new bus station open later this year, followed by City Sentral, a 650,000 square feet retail centre, which is scheduled for completion in 2015. This development will also incorporate a multi-screen cinema, restaurants and a hotel. In addition a £120 million office led development is set to transform the central business district, while improvements to public spaces will create a more attractive environment for shoppers.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development Mark Meredith said that, while the city has always been known as the world capital of ceramics, it was now taking positive steps to diversify and expand its business base. Welcoming the award he added that it sends out the message that Stoke-on-Trent is “definitely open for business.” This is a message an increasing number of businesses are responding to as they see the benefits of investing in the area. These include sectors as diverse as logistics and distribution, healthcare technologies and the automotive sector.
Relocating to Stoke-on-Trent provides a superb environment in which to live and work. The area is surrounded by Staffordshire and Cheshire countryside and enjoys excellent transport links via road and rail. It is also close to Manchester and Birmingham international airports. In addition Stoke-on-Trent has some of the most affordable housing in the UK with an average price of £70,457. This too is attracting investment into the city. Nigel Dicken of estate agents Butters John Bee says; “We are starting to notice a number of purchasers from outside the area looking at Stoke-on-Trent as a potential investment because the returns are attractive compared to the initial price.”
Any businesses considering relocating to the area will find all the advice and support they need to make the move. Inward investment agency, Make it Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, provides a free, comprehensive, service which includes help with finding commercial property and land for development. Among a range of other services they offer are guided tours of the area and advice about grants and other financial incentives available to businesses planning inward investment.
This framework of development and support has contributed enormously to the recognition Stoke-on-Trent has received from European Cities of the Future, and it is essential if the city is to continue its transformation. Mark Meredith believes everything is in place to ensure this the case. He said; “I have long been convinced by the potential of Stoke-on-Trent. All the fundamentals are right and I believe it is on the brink of real economic renaissance.”
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