Chesterfield’s resilience in the face of adversity has been borne out by figures shared at today’s (31 March) Celebrate Chesterfield event organised by Destination Chesterfield in association with Addooco IT.
At the virtual conference it was revealed that SMEs are reporting growth in turnover and staff numbers during the pandemic, while estate agents in the borough are achieving up to 103 per cent on asking price with up to eight buyers per property.
Despite the pandemic, more than £1bn of regeneration projects are currently underway in the borough, including the multi-million pound Chesterfield Waterside, Glass Yard, Northern Gateway and PEAK schemes.
Speaking at the conference Dr Huw Bowen, Chief Executive of Chesterfield Borough Council praised the sector’s can-do attitude during the pandemic.
He said: “There is a fantastic landscape of development happening in the town in the middle of the pandemic. I think it says everything about Chesterfield in terms of the ambition of the place and the fact we are not going to just bunker down but actually get on and invest in quality developments right across the town and borough.”
Work has also begun on a McDonalds restaurant and drive-thru on the site of a long-derelict former multi-storey car park at West Bars. Sixty-five jobs will be created when the fast-food giant opens at the location later this year.
Most recently, Staveley received £25.2million from the Government’s Town Deal programme. It is being billed as one of the largest economic programmes in the borough in recent history.
Speaking at the conference Ivan Fomin, Chair of Staveley Town Deal Board, said: “We want Staveley to become a place to start, to stay and grow to deliver inclusive growth opportunities for the people of Staveley over the next five years.”
While 1,100 Chesterfield businesses temporarily closed during the latest lockdown, Dr Bowen is optimistic they will re-open and access the support and grants the Council has put in place to enable them to re-start. Nearly £60million in business rates relief and grants has been distributed by Chesterfield Borough Council to businesses during the pandemic.
“Our first priority is to support existing businesses to survive and restart,” added Dr Bowen.
Marketing the town, he said, was critical to the council’s Economic Recovery Plan post pandemic and praised the work of Destination Chesterfield in its work to attract inward investment.
He added: “We want people to relocate and start up in business here, so we are working closely with other Derbyshire councils and the East Midlands Chamber to make available start-up funding to encourage entrepreneurs to the town and borough.”
Peter Swallow, Chair of Destination Chesterfield welcomed Dr Bowen’s comments saying: “Chesterfield has proved time and time again that it is a resilient and strong town which consistently performs well in the face of adversity.
“During the pandemic we have seen major projects start to come out of the ground which is testimony to our forward-thinking council and a key reason why investors from outside the area are keen to do business with us on major projects like PEAK, Waterside and HS2.
“Twelve months ago our annual Celebrate Chesterfield event looked to be anything but a celebration. However, we have attracted investment, jobs have been created and a plan is in place to ensure not only that we recover quickly from the pandemic but that we are stronger because of it. There is much to celebrate now and for the future of Chesterfield.”
In addition to Dr Bowen, speakers at the annual free event also included Andy Dabbs and Jillian Mitchell the Chair and Vice Chair respectively of the newly formed Property and Construction Group, which is organised by Destination Chesterfield and was launched at Celebrate Chesterfield 21
The group brings together leaders from the area’s property and construction sectors to shape and drive forward collaboration, investment, sustainability and skills within Chesterfield.
Celebrate Chesterfield 2021 was sponsored by University of Derby, Whittam Cox Architects and Markham Vale – Derbyshire’s flagship regeneration scheme, who joined headline sponsor Addooco IT.
Richard Walters, owner of Chesterfield technology specialist Addooco IT Ltd, commented: “The concept of ‘Celebrating Chesterfield’ really resonates with me as there is such a rich history of innovation here. Having identified early in 2020 how challenging the next 12 months and beyond would likely become we accelerated our investment plans to help minimise the impact of the situation, whilst creating four new job roles to help cope with demand. This ensured ample capacity and performance for our existing clients and those who we’ve welcomed to Addooco over the last year.”
If you were unable to attend the live Celebrate Chesterfield 2021 event, the presentations are available to watch via the online platform until 14 April. For free access to the platform please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.