Shropshire Council’s Economic Recovery Programme was a pot of funding secured last year following the Covid pandemic to assist economic recovery in the county.
The funding has been used to support and enable a series of innovative initiatives including a pioneering project to set up a network of linked co-working venues for small businesses across the county.
The initiative seeks to increase modern co-working and hot desk provision within Shropshire and also to create a virtual hub and online platform (currently in development) known as ‘Shropshire Cowork Campus’, delivering a collaborative approach that truly brings businesses together as a community of co-workers.
The first of these co-working spaces opened its doors in Oswestry on 1st March and is already attracting regional interest.
Hadleigh Works, based in the top floor of Oswestry’s Memorial Hall, in Festival Square is the trail blazer for the new county-wide scheme which will give small businesses access to professional workspaces.
The launch of Hadleigh Works and the network of co-working spaces is a direct response to post-pandemic changes in working methods creating flexible working space and communal areas available to small businesses and entrepreneurs at a regular fixed fee.
The project has resulted from a unique three-way partnership between the Shropshire Council’s Invest in Shropshire team, the trustees of the Memorial Hall in Oswestry and private enterprise to create the new work environment.
Hadleigh Works is a commercially run co-working facility with businesses paying a monthly subscription. It includes hot-desk and meeting spaces plus “break out” zones as well as networking events to encourage collaboration between businesses and entrepreneurs.
“We believe that bringing together a charity alongside public and private enterprises for wider economic and social benefit will become a template for how this type of innovative working relationship can add real value to a town and its surrounding areas,” he said.
One of the first businesses to sign up to Hadleigh Works’ new facilities was leading Shropshire training organisation SBC Training which will be using the co-working centre as its north Shropshire base.
SBC Training managing director Colin Thaw said Hadleigh Works would give his staff a flexible and attractive space to meet clients or to work from between meetings and training.
“We are really delighted that we are bringing our service to Hadleigh Works. It’s a central location, flexible space and attractive surroundings and for us there will be a real advantage in meeting other like-minded professionals.
“We are confident there will be shared business opportunities from being in a meeting space of this type. I am sure there will be positive spin-off benefits,” he said.