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Board visit celebrates success of the Local Growth Fund investment

Rebecca Stephens, a Business Board Member, joined councillors and local business leaders on Friday (November 5) to see how the city has benefitted from Local Growth Fund investment.
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Peterborough city centre could get outdoor cafe culture as retail makes positive start post lockdown (Picture: Shariqua Ahmed)

Rebecca Stephens, a Business Board Member,  joined councillors and local business leaders last week to see how the city has benefited from Local Growth Fund investment.

Rebecca Stephens was joined by Peterborough City Council Leader, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald; Deputy Leader, Cllr Steve Allen; Chief Executive of Opportunity Peterborough, Tom Hennessy, and Chair of Peterborough Positive, Mark Broadhead.

The delegation visited a number of local businesses which have benefited from the £800,000 Local Growth Fund, awarded to the council in September 2020 by the Business Board.

The Local Growth Fund provides investment to projects that benefit the local area and economy.

The £800,000 funding was originally awarded by the Business Board and then saw an additional £183,000 from Peterborough City Council.

This funding was awarded following a joint presentation by business leaders and the city council.

In the wake of Covid-19 restrictions, the impact on city centre businesses, particularly those in the hospitality and retail sector and the effect on jobs and livelihoods, was significant.

Business leaders worked with the council to develop a package of measures that together will create a Café Culture in the city.

The five aims of the Café Culture project include:

  • Retaining 100 hundred jobs in the city
  • Stimulating an enterprise culture in the city
  • Boosting city centre productivity
  • Attracting additional investment in the city of £10 million by 2025
  • Ensuring that the infrastructure created is net carbon neutral
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MD Coffee, City Centre

In less than 12 months the council states that they are well on the way to achieving these huge feats.

Jobs have been created, new businesses have been established, a major public Wi-Fi scheme is being implemented in the city centre and innovative outdoor seating areas have been created, in some cases, using recycled materials and created by local firms.

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “This investment in Peterborough city centre has enabled businesses to not only tackle the challenges brought by the Covid pandemic, but to build back better and thrive.

“It has created approximately 200 jobs as a direct result of the funding, along with around 300 indirect jobs and 300 temporary roles.

“The investment has also helped to develop our Café Culture approach, creating a more vibrant city centre for residents and visitors both during the day and in the evenings.

“With the recent announcement of Peterborough’s successful Business Improvement District (BID) vote an additional funding of 1.8 million has been secured over the next five years the impact will spread across the city and beyond, attracting shoppers, tourists and business investment opportunities.”

The Business Board is the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for the region and includes local business leaders and elected local leaders, including Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson, who are passionate about supporting businesses.

The Board aims to work with businesses, education, and local authority partners to drive economic growth, secure inward investment and protect and create jobs across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Rebecca Stephens, said: “It was fantastic to see first-hand how investment from the Business Board boosting enterprise and jobs in Peterborough in what has been a hugely challenging period in the wake of Covid-19.

“Resilience and the ability to adapt is crucial to any local economy. City and town centres in particular were hit during the pandemic and it was great to see how our investment is helping Peterborough to reshape and refresh its offer to local people and visitors.

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“Peterborough continues to be a city of great potential, where the benefits of investment are clear. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our partners in the city council to find more ways we can support the local economy.”

Tom Hennessy, Chief Executive of Opportunity Peterborough, said: “The Local Growth Fund has helped collective change in the city centre so businesses can adapt much more easily to new ways of operating.

“It’s created much more stability for businesses ahead of significant developments over the coming years which will bring even more footfall – and customers - to the heart of the city.

“Next year the new university, ARU Peterborough, will open on the Embankment, and the Business Improvement District will launch, boosting promotional activity for the city centre.

“There are also several projects underway as part of the £22.9 million Towns Fund to enhance our cultural offer, plus the £600 million development plans across eight sites which will radically transform the face of the city centre with more residential and commercial spaces.”