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Rotherham support for businesses lifts it into elite worldwide group

posted 24 Mar 2010, 07:07 by RiDO Rotherham
Rotherham has become the first place in England to join one of the world’s most elite groups of business locations.

The borough, just chosen by Rolls-Royce as the location for its Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, joins 15 others recognised internationally as excellent for supporting businesses.

That could help Rotherham attract more overseas companies, bringing investment and jobs. It already has more than 90, employing about 7,000 people.

After a tough judging process, the US-based National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) has awarded the borough “Soft Landing Zone” status, giving it an “excellent” rating for helping overseas investor companies set up there.

The borough joins the likes of Boston University and several other US centres, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks, Australia’s National Innovation Centre, Technopolis, in Finland, and other mainland Europe centres in France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The UK’s only other such zone is in Wales.

To win acceptance, Rotherham Investment & Development Office (RiDO), the Borough Council’s regeneration arm, had to show how its support for business, particularly start-up, existing and incoming companies, made a significant different to their arrival, survival and success.

RiDO did so by explaining how it helps entrepreneurs start their businesses, existing companies grow, and national and overseas companies relocate to the borough.

A big factor was the council’s four purpose-built business centres, fully managed by RiDO. Their range of facilities and support, including office and workshop space and services, such as administration, would help give overseas companies the soft landing.

“This is a tremendous coup for the borough,” said the council’s Cabinet Member for economic development, planning and transportation, Cllr Gerald Smith. “Coming so soon after Rolls-Royce’s choice of the Advanced Manufacturing Park here for its £25m research centre, it puts another Rotherham flag on the international business map.”

RiDO business development manager Tim O’Connell added: “That in turn brings greater potential for new investment and jobs. It justifies the council’s commitment to creating the business centres across the borough, and our effort to help the excellent public-private partnership here to bolster the local economy. If we were a restaurant, this would be the equivalent of winning three Michelin stars.”

Yorkshire Forward’s assistant director of business, Theresa Lindsay, welcomed the success: “The US is a key market for the region and achieving international recognition for the first-class support Rotherham gives to international businesses is a fantastic achievement and drums home the message that relocating here will deliver real business advantage.”

The NBIA, based in Athens, Ohio, promotes the “incubation” of new companies and others relocating to other countries. Rotherham already has more than 90 overseas companies from around the world, many of them helped by RiDO and providing thousands of jobs.

Its membership director, Randy Morris, said: “This award puts RiDO in an elite group of just 16 business incubators from nine countries on four continents who have the unique services to assist companies who are moving into their country from another country.

“Soft Landings incubators find that the designation gives them credibility and communicates to potential clients that their services provide just what they’ll need to make a “soft landing” in the new country. It gives the incubator the cache of having a respected outside organisation’s recommendation.

Its website tells regeneration organisations worldwide: “Every day, companies are expanding into international markets… If you want to land foreign businesses, you need to let them know you can accelerate their growth.”