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New food innovation centre moves step nearer

New food innovation centre moves step nearer

Plans to build a regional food and drink innovation centre in Weston-super-Mare have moved a step closer.

The full £11.8m funding agreement for The Food WorksSW, recently agreed by the West of England Joint Committee, comes from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund.

North Somerset Council is now carrying out the final preparations to enable a start on site this October, with the centre opening in January 2020.

The Food WorksSW will provide a range of facilities and technical support for food and drink manufacturers across the region, helping new businesses to get started and established producers to innovate and grow. Situated within the DEFRA designated Food Enterprise Zone in the heart of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area, it will create around 250 new jobs.

The council has also begun the process of appointing an operator to run the 25,500sq.ft. centre.

A 15-year contract is out to tender with the contract due to be awarded in March next year. This will give the operator the opportunity to sign up occupiers and take bookings for the centre in readiness for when it opens.

“Due to the specialist nature of the technical facilities, the centre will benefit from a commercial operator with experience and a track record of operating business centres,” said Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for economic development.

“Under the agreement, the operator will manage all aspects of The Food WorksSW on our behalf. All expenditure and costs for the operator will be covered by charges and rents from users of the centre with any profits put back into the centre to increase and improve the range of facilities and support for businesses.

“We are grateful to our colleagues in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and the LEP for their support and note that we are already getting a great deal of interest from potential operators.”

Business enquiries about The Food WorksSW or the Junction 21 Enterprise Area should be directed to North Somerset Council’s economic development team on 01934 426 266 or email business@n-somerset.gov.uk.