The creation of a flagship food and drink innovation centre on the outskirts of Weston-Super-Mare has moved a significant step forwards.
FoodWorksSW will provide a regional centre of excellence for food and drink manufacturers to help new businesses get started and established producers to innovate and grow. Situated within the Food Enterprise Zone, it will play a pivotal role in the drive to support the food and drink sector in North Somerset and the wider region.
The Local Growth Deal funding will help fund the £11.3m phase one of the development on five acres of land within the Weston Business Quarter. The centre will be built near the new North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College and The Hive managed work space and will create around 250 jobs.
Phase one will include a business engagement hub, four product development units and 12 food-grade business units of between 1,000 and 1,500 sq. ft. targeted at new and growing businesses across the South West.
Larger units of between 3,000 and 5,000 sq. ft. will be provided as part of phase two of the project.
A private sector-led project advisory group is advising the council on the specific needs and requirements of the food and drink industry.
Chris Smith, Managing Director of Marshfield Bakery and Chair of the FoodWorksSW Project Advisory group, said: “I am absolutely delighted by the news that North Somerset Council has successfully secured funding for FoodWorksSW which will provide vital facilities, training and support for SME businesses such as ours.
“This is an exciting step forward for the food and drink industry in the South West and will not only raise awareness of this important sector, but will also help to secure future growth and investment.”
With the funding now in place, the council will be seeking an operator for the centre in the summer who will be responsible for developing the facilities further and delivering a dedicated business support programme to the businesses using the centre and across the region.
Subject to planning approval, building work is due to start in the autumn with an anticipated opening at the end of 2018 / early 2019.
“The new centre will boost the profile of North Somerset’s thriving food and drink industry both regionally and nationally,” said the council’s leader Cllr Nigel Ashton. “It will also raise awareness of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area as a key business location.
“2017 is going to be a big year for the Enterprise Area. Already home to a diverse range of companies, around 1,500 jobs have been created there in the last two years and we are confident that a number of high-profile investment enquiries will come to fruition this year.”
Any business enquiries about FoodWorksSW or the Junction 21 Enterprise Area should be directed to the Council’s Economic Development Team on 01934 426 266 or email [email protected]