Space mission reaches a key milestone

Businesses expand and communities benefit through incentives offered by enterprise areas, says Patrick Wiggins
Irvines enterprise area, i3, was set up by the Scottish Government to encourage businesses to expand and create jobs in the communityIrvines enterprise area, i3, was set up by the Scottish Government to encourage businesses to expand and create jobs in the community
Irvines enterprise area, i3, was set up by the Scottish Government to encourage businesses to expand and create jobs in the community

Irvine’s enterprise area, i3, has reached a significant landmark…by letting more than 100,000 square feet of business space.

Established by the Scottish Government in the spring of 2012, the enterprise area has been successful in attracting new businesses and in helping local businesses grow – creating and sustaining jobs in Irvine Bay and the surrounding area. Irvine Bay Regeneration Company leads the development and promotion of i3, Irvine’s enterprise area.

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Five firms have taken up the space during the past year, with units ranging in size from 42,000sq ft to 5,000sq ft.

The firms are:

• Booth Welsh Automation: 42,000 sq ft (high-level engineering solutions, particularly for the life sciences and oil and gas sectors)

• HowCo: 22,000 sq ft (engineering, oil and gas)

• Barony: 30,000 sq ft (chemicals)

• Oricom: 5,000 sq ft (telecoms particularly for the health sector)

• Voca Telecoms: 5,000 sq ft (contact management and servicing)

While our focus has narrowed over the past year, from a general regeneration remit including revitalising our town centres to the development of the i3 enterprise area in Irvine, our end goals remain the same – to create jobs and opportunities for people in the area through the work we do.

Our area of North Ayrshire – made up of the five towns of Irvine, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Ardrossan and Kilwinning – benefits from the creation by the Scottish Government of the enterprise area in Irvine, i3.

Our most recent let only happened in October, when yet another company took advantage of the excellent infrastructure – both physical and digital – on offer at i3, Irvine’s enterprise area.

Interest in i3 continues at a high level, as businesses see the many positives locating in the Enterprise Area can bring them, including the various financial incentives which are offered.

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GSK, one of the businesses in the area, continues to invest in their Irvine plant in manufacturing capacity and renewables. Since the enterprise area was established, GSK have invested in Irvine and taken advantage of the capital allowances incentives available to businesses.

GSK has been located in Irvine since 1973. Being situated within an enterprise area gives the company access to some real benefits and support which helps to realise its growth and improvement plans.

Growing local company Booth Welsh is now occupying its new head office premises at 3 Riverside Way, Irvine. Over the last 25 years the company has grown from two to 250 employees and has built a reputation for providing high-quality control engineering solutions for blue chip clients across a wide range of industries.

This move provides the foundations for the company’s ambitious growth strategy going forward and will help attract new clients and employees.

With 40,000sq ft to fill, more resources will be required in every area of the business – from back office support, apprenticeships and graduates to fully experienced engineers, bringing future jobs to the people of North Ayrshire and beyond.

Voca moved into its first office suite at i3 Innovation Centre just over a year ago, when it took 1200sq ft of office space for its contact management business. Move forward one year to October 2014 and Voca is moving 200 yards to its newly-refurbished 5000sq ft of flagship office. Jobs created: from 28 in March 2014 to 65, and targeting 100 employees by March 2015.

The company’s business is client-contact management and servicing – a business-service provider to large and small businesses which need additional resource and know-how to succeed in the increasingly competitive internet-based era.

The Scottish Government established enterprise areas, including the one at Irvine, to provide a catalyst for businesses to grow. This is now beginning to happen.

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The significant amount of space let by Irvine Bay Regeneration Company shows that the incentives offered through an enterprise area are genuinely helpful for businesses as they grow, and as they expand they take on more people and communities benefit.

The enterprise area at Irvine can help businesses from many sectors, but is aimed in particular at life science and engineering.

Many of the businesses which have moved to and are investing in the EA are working in, or supporting, these sectors.

Patrick Wiggins is chief executive of Irvine Bay Regeneration Company