Business

Ards Business Centre plans major workspace expansion

Ards Business Centre is exploring options to develop a new site beside its headquarters. The details were revealed at the centre’s AGM. Present were members of the board of directors (from left) Alan McDowell, Geoff Ingham, Nichola Lockhart (chief executive), David Blevings (chair), Lydia McClelland and Alan Burnside

ARDS Business Centre is looking at innovative ways of developing a new plot of land to add to its 80,000 square feet of workspace beside its existing three Jubilee Road sites.

Details of the one-acre site were revealed at the centre's annual meeting where the board also unveiled plans to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a company rebrand and a new three year strategy to develop its support for businesses.

Business Centre chair David Blevings said the board was looking to inspire the entrepreneurs of the future.

“We are currently exploring a range options to develop the new acre of land opposite Sketrick House and expect to be in a position to make an announcement later this year,” he confirmed.

“This is an exciting time for Ards Business Centre. We are reflecting on 30 memorable years of encouraging entrepreneurship and employment in the Newtownards area but are continuing to develop our support services to help new businesses and stimulate the local economy.”

The centre is an independent social enterprise run by a board of nine voluntary directors. As well as providing workspace units ranging from workshops to hi-tech offices it delivers business support programme contracts in partnership with Enterprise NI and other enterprise agencies.

The past year has also seen Ards Business Centre (www.ardsbusiness.com) introduce some innovative new services.

In September it opened the Handcrafted Gallery in Newtownards town centre to provide retail space and business advice for the creative industries. The gallery enables makers from Newtownards and beyond to sell their products and provides business support to address their needs.

Mr Blevings added: “Our aim is to encourage these makers to grow their business and eventually acquire their own premises. This is a new venture for us and one that we are keen to explore further in the future as we continue to look at ways of stimulating enterprise in Ards.”

Ards Business Centre, which is one of Northern Ireland's 27 enterprise agencies. Occupancy levels at its three sites currently sit at almost 100 per cent, with an increasing waiting list of new businesses hoping to move in.

Its three business parks located on the Jubilee Road – Sketrick House, Strangford Park and Nendrum Park currently house more than 60 tenants employing 300 people, with room for even more growth.

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