Thu 21 September 2017
Durham County Council (DCC) set up a new and bespoke service Business Durham (BD). BD, while still part of the council, operates under an independent brand and identity. Its aim is to create an environment that attracts and supports businesses to create wealth and jobs in County Durham, while becoming increasingly financially self-sufficient from profitably letting commercial property.
BD operates DCC’s industrial and office property portfolio. In total, this equates to 50,938m2 split across industrial units (30,725m2), offices (11,962m2) and North East England’s only science park, NETPark (8,701m2). The portfolio is 85% full, an increase from 72% three years ago and is funding the delivery of over £1 million worth of economic development.
BD works closely with enterprise agencies active in County Durham, as they deliver support for start-ups. BD's principal role is focused on animating the market, particularly school children and students. The flagship program is Future Business Magnates (FBM) which connects schools to local businesses and works with Year 8s to expose them to enterprise over a year-long program. FBM has also been submitted for an award this year. BD, with Durham University and New College Durham, is establishing an incubator and an incubation program to encourage greater start-up and business growth. Initially aimed at graduates to help retain their skills in the locality, eventually the incubator will hopefully enable new businesses to be formed from wider sources and lead to the development of a vibrant business community.