Newton Press has converted its former premises into smaller workspace units, housing up to 11 small businesses, creating 55 additional rural jobs by March 2020, by using grant funding to leverage private investment.
The family-run firm, established by Syd Howarth 57 years ago, moved to new, larger premises in the town in 2015 but retained its old site, a former munitions factory, with the aim of renovating and renting it out.
Demand from small rural businesses looking for suitable space led its directors to rethink the renovations, opting instead to redevelop the property, creating 11 individual units to cater for small and micro enterprises.
The building has been re-named Sydney House, to celebrate the entrepreneurial legacy of the firm’s founder.
To help meet the £350,000 cost of the redevelopment, Newton Press received a grant of £110,000 via the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF) element of the North East Rural Growth Network, a programme designed to accelerate business growth in rural communities.
In 2015, the Rural Growth Network secured £6m capital investment from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) via the Local Growth Fund.
Six tenants have already signed up, one of which is contracted with a 10-year lease.
Director Stuart Howarth – pictured above (right) with RGN support officer Christopher Walker – said: “Early on in the project we realised that there was a real need in the town for high quality accommodation for smaller businesses.
“The building work required to convert our building was a huge commitment. Without the funding, we couldn’t have created these much-needed units and would have had to rent out the full site to just one company.
“A priority for us in terms of responsible development was making sure that the size of the units would qualify our tenants for small business rates relief, giving new and small business significant savings on business rates.
“We had so much interest in the smaller units that we actually converted space we had earmarked for storage into additional offices, just because there was so much demand.”
Mr Howarth’s three sons Paul, Stuart and Christopher who now run the business, plan to officially open Sydney House this summer.
Stuart added: “We renamed the site after our dad. We lost him last year, so we want to do everything we can to keep his memory alive.
“For 55 years, he gave his heart and soul to this community, receiving an MBE for services to the community, something we are passionate about as a family and a business.”
Katy McIntosh, Rural Growth network manager, worked with Newton Press to identify the grant funding opportunity and complete its successful application.
She said: “These units are a much needed addition to Newton Aycliffe’s commercial property offer, something that is evidenced by the demand for space coming from small and micro-sized businesses.
“Three of the six contracted tenants are already occupying units and the project is on track to add 3 direct and 52 indirect new jobs to our rural economy by next March.”