Hereford’s flagship business incubation and innovation centre, at the heart of Skylon Park, officially opened by Secretary of State
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), cut the ribbon today (4 June) on Hereford’s Shell Store, newly refurbished into a modern business incubation and innovation centre.
The Shell Store has a rich history, having been built in the First World War and used as an ordnance site during the Second World War. The project has developed commercial space within the existing building footprint (it is not a listed building), retaining much of the original factory including its steel roof structure.
The £7.3m refurbishment of the building has established more than 2,100 sq metres of employment space, with room for new and growing businesses to set up and expand alongside facilities for development and innovation.
The 25 business incubation units are forecast to generate around 128 new jobs by 2023, rising to more than 450 by 2031.
The building also provides access to modern, accessible business meeting and conference space, as well as an onsite café, providing facilities to encourage networking and collaboration. The building was designed with specialist input from other successful business incubation facilities across the country to build on best practice elsewhere.
The Marches Growth Hub, Hereford Enterprise Zone team, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce will be located on site providing businesses with access to advice and support services.
Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for MHCLG, said: “If you think back a decade ago, this was a derelict brownfields site and behind me was an incredibly historic building but one that was in poor condition. What has been achieved here is phenomenal. Half of the site is now full of businesses, and that is creating well-paid, interesting jobs for local people and is attracting business into the wider region as well.
“We want to make sure we build back strongly from the pandemic, and this building will play a part in that because it provides really high quality space for businesses, conference spaces, and spaces for incubation of new businesses. I think the future is very bright for the Shell Store.”
Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “The Shell Store is a unique and historic building, and it is fantastic to see it refurbished as a key part of the council’s economic aspirations for the county.
“The people of Herefordshire are extraordinarily entrepreneurial, and this has contributed to the County being home to a thriving tech industry. The Shell Store will support the growth of this key sector by providing space and facilities for innovative new and young enterprises to flourish, helping to create local jobs and build skills and expertise. It has been a difficult time for local business, so it is brilliant to see the opening of this exciting new hub of incubation and innovation, which we are confident will make a vital contribution to driving local growth and supporting the economic recovery of the county.”
Andrew Manning Cox, Chair of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, said: “The Shell Store offers exactly the sort of high-quality start-up and grow-on space which Hereford needs to enable us to nurture the next generation of businesses.
“We were delighted to show the Secretary of State how we have brought new life back to this amazing building which will contribute to the continuing economic recovery post-pandemic in the county.
“New, innovative and growing enterprises will benefit from being part of Skylon Park’s thriving business community with support on-site provided by the Enterprise Zone team and the Marches Growth Hub.”
Mandy Thorn MBE, Chair of the Marches LEP, said: “The Shell Store is an excellent example of the LEP delivering on its promise to work with our partners to create the conditions for economic growth and sustainable job creation across the region.
“We have supported this project through a £2.4m loan from the Marches Investment Fund because it is vital for the long-term success of our economy that we work to encourage and nurture young businesses, help support innovation and provide a business ecosystem which fosters growth. We look forward to the Shell Store having a long and successful future.”