Sunderland’s Business Improvement District is celebrating its first anniversary as the driving force in growing the economy of the city centre. Chief executive Ken Dunbar caught up with BQ to look at five reasons why Sunderland is a fantastic place to do business.
Sunderland BID - the Business Improvement District is playing a huge role in helping showcase the city centre and what it has to offer. Working closely with organisations like the Bridges, we’ve created an on-going programme of events to drive the local economy.
This has included everything from last year’s African Festival to the highly popular Advent Door promotion, part of the Christmas activities in the city, which saw shoppers being able to win a prize throughout December by visiting a particular retailer.
We’re currently working on developing new outdoor markets and looking at showcasing the city centre after hours for leisure and eating out.
An innovative joint venture company set up by Carillion and Sunderland City Council – Siglion – is now working on an ambitious £100m plus programme to transform Sunderland, which has at its heart driving economic growth.
This includes a plan to create a business district on the former Vaux brewery site along with revitalising other areas of the city, with great opportunities for companies and retailers to be part of what will undoubtedly be a thriving city centre.
Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub, being developed by the University of Sunderland, is expected to attract and create over 120 innovative growth businesses over five years, generating around 250 jobs, with a further 400 created over the longer term.
The Hub will support businesses in Sunderland, and the wider region, to help them become more innovative with the benefit of laboratory space where they can trial new ideas and help bring them closer to market.
They will also be able to utilise world-leading academic expertise, student and graduate support, as well as access to a network of other professionals.
It will also play home to the North East’s first FabLab – an innovative project started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA, which enables people to prototype and try out new product ideas.
Sunderland is a city which works together – evident by the plan created by the Economic Leadership Board and Sunderland Business Group, who have come up with the 3, 6, 9 Vision, which is set to shape the cultural and economic development of Wearside in the coming years.
Every year leading up to 2024 is now to have a specific theme, starting this year with a celebration to make the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland because of Sunderland’s strong Lewis Carroll connections.
Other themes include celebrating Sunderland’s industrial heritage and future as well as Sunderland AFC’s 140th anniversary in 2019. It will culminate in 2024 with a celebration of 1,350 years since the Venerable Bede was born.
The plan will also hope to create further support for Sunderland’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid, to be submitted next year and use the anticipated success that hosting the Tall Ships Race in 2018 will bring.
Sunderland Software City is dedicated to growing this important area of business with the aim of attracting the international software industry.
The private sector initiated, publicly backed organisation brings together the best of the public, private and educational sectors to generate a sustainable software industry in the region and drive the development of world class software businesses.
It has already attracted world class businesses to the city – most recently global technology solutions provider, Saggezza, which has its HQ in Chicago.
The first BIDS were set up a decade ago - in 2004 - to revitatalise and regenerate commercial areas in towns and cities across the UK. From a modest start there are now scores of BIDS all over the country, working in partnership in many diverse areas but with one aim - to help the commercial area thrive.
For more information on SunderlandBID, visit the website here.