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Historic Business Centre Celebrates Successful 1st Year

3 March 2010

The Joiners Shop in the Historic Dockyard Chatham celebrated its successful first year of operation this week – with 80% of its 44 units now occupied. The Grade II* listed building is 200 years old and a Scheduled Ancient Monument which re-opened as a specialist Centre for Creative Industries just over a year ago following major restoration.

Basepoint, the organisation that manages the Centre hosted a celebratory event, attended by its chief executive Brian Andrews and special guests from South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), who co-funded the £3.3m restoration of the building, and the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust as well as Joiners Shop tenants and some of the building’s original workers.

The Joiners Shop employs 80 people and is already home to 38 businesses, including laser cutting and engraving company Liquid Blue Designs and digital creative studio Lab10.  Allison Sweeney, Centre Manager for Basepoint said: “We have attracted a wide mix of creative businesses in our first year, from web and graphic designers, architects, IT support, to specialist printers and engravers.  Demand for space continues to grow and it is very rewarding to see young companies succeed particularly in the current climate.”

Lee Amor, SEEDA’s Executive Director for Infrastructure & Development, said: “The Joiners Shop provides the much-needed infrastructure to encourage and support the creative sector, which is one of the strengths of our economy and important to the future economic growth of the South East.  The Joiners Shop is making a very real contribution to the regeneration of Chatham Maritime. I am particularly pleased to see the links between the University of Creative Arts and local businesses being fostered within the building, bringing together education and employment.”

Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “The Historic Dockyard is already home to a thriving community of creative businesses and is a cultural hub within Medway. The Joiners Shop project, with its specific purpose of creating an enabling environment for small and mainly new creative businesses of all kinds, adds an exciting new dimension and has brought this historic building back to life. Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with SEEDA, CLG and Medway Council to provide this fantastic facility.”

Tenant Mark Gynn of Liquid Blue Designs says choosing the right premises has really helped his business.  “The Joiners Shop has proved to be an ideal location for setting up a new business.  It is a beautifully renovated historic building at the heart of a prestigious site of national significance. The setting provides a stimulating backdrop for creativity, and has brought us together with a wide range of people and artistic concepts, establishing a creative hub within the local area.”

Another tenant, Lab10 has an office in London and moved its main production studio to The Joiners’ Shop in the Historic Dockyard Chatham in October last year. “It fitted all our requirements as far as location and facilities were concerned as well providing a bright modern environment in which to work and meet clients, said Victoria Nowell.  “We were particularly impressed with the building’s sensitive conversion and restoration and the efficient management and running of the centre.  The fast broadband connection also gives us the flexibility of working with freelancers when we need to.”

The Joiners Shop provides 1,000sq.m of office and workshop space for up to 44 small and starter businesses, let on easy ‘in and out’ terms.  For further information, contact Allison Sweeney, Manager of The Joiners Shop on 01634 816000, or email allisonsweeney@basepoint.co.uk.

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