Nottingham’s nationally-award winning Creative Quarter (CQ) is up for a top European award today (Thursday 19 November) in the European Union’s Improving the Business Environment category of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

The Creative Quarter is the flagship project in Nottingham’s City Council’s Growth Plan to create jobs and economic growth in the city centre. Established in July 2012 as part of Nottingham’s City Deal to make the CQ’s designated area, which consists of the historic Lace Market, Hockley, Sneinton Market and BioCity, a great place in which to start, grow and sustain a creative business.

CQ Chief Executive, Kathy McArdle, and Chair of the CQ Board, Mich Stevenson, will represent the project and city in what is a very prestigious moment for the CQ and Nottingham.

The news of the project’s European award shortlisting comes as new figures reveal the huge impact the project is having on the local economy. Two and half years from its inception, the CQ project has, and continues, to provide a real boost to the regions economy, creating jobs, bringing new business in and supporting businesses already here to achieve high growth.

Key achievements so far include:
• Over 850 businesses and entrepreneurs supported and signposted to business support and/or access to finance information.
• 650 new jobs created across the CQ.
• 83 apprenticeships created in The CQ; 251 in the Growth Plan priority sectors.
• Retail vacancy reduced by almost 50%.
• An overall increase in the Rateable Value of the total property in the area of 16% from October 2012.
• An overall increase of the Gross Business Rates due in the area of 26.15% from October 2012.
• Increased visitor expenditure of (minimum) £3.72 million due to additional events in the CQ area.
• Major public realm improvements, funded by Nottingham City Council and the European Union, across the city have also been delivered, improving access to The CQ, the public spaces of the city, and the entrances into the city.
• Planning applications in the CQ area have increased by 150% in 2014-15 from 2011 -12 levels.

The CQ has already picked up a prestigious national award earlier this month when it received the Government’s Enterprising Britain Award for ‘Improving the Business Environment’ at the Houses of Commons.

Craig Chettle, CQ Board Vice-Chair and Chief Executive of Confetti Media Group, said:“As someone who has been involved in the CQ from the beginning, it’s invigorating to see the rate of growth and investment in the area – supporting a creative culture that’s seldom seen outside the capital.

“It’s exciting to see the restoration and transformation of buildings being brought back into use by organisations like ourselves (Confetti Media Group) and the small creative and digital businesses that occupy the office spaces in the area. Their energy is what powers the CQ and it’s the lightning speed at which they work that’s transformed the area in the last two years.”

Councillor Nick McDonald, CQ Board Member and Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, said:“Back in 2012, when we established the CQ project, we knew that we could create something which would become the city’s flagship development to create jobs and growth in the city, but what has been fantastic is the rate in which the Creative Quarter has kicked-on so quickly and is already proving just a few short years after its establishment, what an impact it is already having and what a huge impact it can have going forward.

“I’m passionate about growing the city’s economy and these figures show the massive impact the CQ is having. We’re attracting new businesses to the CQ like the National Videogame Arcade and Rough Trade, creating more opportunities for graduates so that they stay in the city and more apprenticeships for the city’s young people, so that they have the opportunity to get on the job training.

“As we progress The Creative Quarter development, we have many new initiatives coming onstream to support business growth – including a new round of business support for the creative and digital sector, the development of a new Innovation Centre, our Growth Hub (delivered in partnership with D2N2) and new access to finance schemes. It is exciting, and I know the next few years promises a great period of prosperity and growth for the Creative Quarter and for the city.”

Sir John Peace, Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Chairman of Standard Chartered plc and Burberry plc, and founding Chair of the Nottingham Economic Growth Board which oversaw the work carried out through the Growth Plan, says:“The Creative Quarter team have taken the original founding vision of an ‘incubator without walls’ and turned it into a reality which benefits new and established businesses and entrepreneurs. They have genuinely transformed the business environment in the area.

“Over the last two and half years, the area has experienced a radical transformation with improved public spaces, a revitalised retail and leisure scene, a regular programme of cultural events and a host of networking events to enable businesses to connect, collaborate and learn from each other.”

Aaron Dicks, Managing Director of Impression, based in the Lace Market, said: “As a growing digital marketing agency, we couldn’t have chosen a better location to base our business: we’ve been able to benefit financially from grants and access to affordable, attractive office space, and the CQ is a vibrant environment with a strong business community to enjoy at work, and at play.

“These latest stats show that the Creative Quarter is so much more than just an area of a city – it’s a company, geographical zone and support initiative all rolled into one, which continues to successfully foster business growth, employment and occupancy within this unique part of Nottingham.”