by Natalie Vincent Wed 27 September 2017, 2:59 pm
Council representatives from the East Midlands attended the first-ever Sitematch East Midlands event on 26 September, a business-to-business "speed-dating" event where private sector business meet with key council decision makers for 15 minutes, to encourage development in their respective areas.
Held at The Banking Hall in Bishopsgate, 55 delegates including members of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham city councils, and developers and consultants came together to discuss building opportunities and ideas for growth.
Keynote speakers at the event were: Andy Cliffe, managing director at East Midlands Airport, Ken Nettleship of Invest In Nottingham, John Forkin of Marketing Derby and Helen Donellan, Inward Investment Director at Leicester City Council.
Forkin encouraged developers to "invest in our [East Midlands] region, wherever it is, whatever works for your business", calling it the "heart of innovation and opportunity".
He spoke to Sitematch about the three councils working together as Team Midlands at global events, including MIPIM in France, and their reasons for attending the Sitematch event:
"It seemed to us an opportunity to get in front of developers, investors, [and] agents who might be interested in investing in our city, and in our county. Secondly, it was a good opportunity to show some collaboration with our neighbours in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, so it's serving two purposes."
Julian Stott, property development manager at Manchester Airport Group, which owns East Midlands airport told Sitematch about its close links with councils in the region:
"We're here to support our local authority partners, given that East Midlands airport holds a strategic location in the region, and in many respects is the commercial and strategic glue between the local authorities and accommodations."
Nettleship spoke about Invest In Nottingham's aims for the morning of meetings: "The main part of today is starting conversations with people who don't know who we are or what we have to offer, and what the investment and development opportunites are."
He went on to describe the current potential for development in Nottinghamshire: "We have key sites in both the city and county that are either mixed-use, commercial and residential, and it's trying to have conversations with developers who are looking for new projects, or investors where we might have sites that are almost ready to go, but just needing that extra bit of investment to get them out of the ground."
Showing Sitematch a thick portfolio of ongoing development sites in Leicester, Donnellan spoke about a meeting with the founders of CRATE, a start-up shipping container building development firm, based in Essex.
"The two guys who do the CRATE stuff…I mean we've seen things like Boxpark which doesn't quite work for us, but theirs was so much more flexible and appropriate for our market. I genuinely think that is something we can work with."
Praise was given to the organisers of the event, and how useful it was for attendees. Donellan said: "We [often] don’t get time to talk, pause and reflect on what else is out there and what we can creatively look at and get involved in, and this is a real opportunity to do that. It's been really good."
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