Enterprise Zone helps drive forward development in Birmingham
Fifteen million pounds of funding to help drive development across the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone was announced at cabinet last month (January 20).
The Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone consists of 26 sites identified and has the potential over the next 25 years to deliver 1.3m square metres of development and create 40,000 jobs within key industries, such as financial services, digital media and creative industries.
In July 2012, Birmingham City Council approved a £128m investment plan to kickstart the EZ with specific allocations for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and the extension of the Midland Metro.
Included in the plan was £15m for a site development and access fund.
If approved, this will provide grants and loans to developers who have been struggling to access finance.
It is hoped this will build on the progress with the Zone, which is forecast to create 2,500 by 2015 with a number of key developments already underway. Councillor Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, said: “Birmingham quite rightly has a reputation as a city of enterprise and innovation, offering opportunities for business and employment.
“We’re committed to promoting economic growth but to do this we need to do all we can to help businesses overcome some of the barriers to finance which will in turn encourage private sector investment and generate additional business rates.”
Chris Webster, GBSLEP Board Director with responsibility for the Enterprise Zone, said: “Already at sites including Arena Central, the Beorma Quarter and at Snow Hill we can see tangible progress being made with the EZ as well as important projects in the pipeline.
“But we realise there are sites that may require support to get them off the ground given the challenges we know developers face in getting finance.
“In quite a short space of time, we hope to be able to get this work up and running so that we can see further progress before very long.”
A call will be made for expressions of interest with grants managed by the city council and loans by Finance Birmingham.
The access fund with contribute to the overall enterprise zone by helping to increase commercial space, attracting inward investment and creating new job opportunities.