Cotton Court Business Centre

News

Lancashire County Council chooses Cotton Court client to deliver its £11.25m Rosebud Fund

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A support fund available for businesses in Lancashire has a new team in charge of handing out loans designed to spark growth and jobs.

Lancashire County Council has chosen investment specialist GC Business Finance (GCBF) to deliver its £11.25m Rosebud business finance fund.

The team, based at Cotton Court, will oversee Rosebud loans from £10,000 to £300,000 for growing businesses over the next five years and will work alongside Lancashire County Developments.

It delivers more than £60m in finance to over 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises each year. This includes managing the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s ‘microfinance’ funds, providing loans of between £25,000 and £100,000 to businesses across the powerhouse area.

Rosebud aims to create around 150 new jobs per year and will focus on sectors such as aerospace; advanced manufacturing; digital and creative; energy and environment; health innovation; and financial and professional services.

County councillor Michael Green, a cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Over the last 30 years Rosebud has helped thousands of businesses across Lancashire to expand by tapping into finance to create new jobs, move premises and invest in technology. We’re incredibly pleased to be able to allocate a further £11.25m pounds to support growing Lancashire businesses to achieve their growth aspirations.”

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council, said: “GC Business Finance already works closely with the Access 2 Finance service in Lancashire and has strong relationships with local businesses and the professional services community.

“It will help provide a seamless transition for the delivery of Rosebud finance, helping businesses create employment opportunities, especially the graduate-level jobs that can help us retain talent in Lancashire.”

 

Paul Breen, director of GC Business Finance, said: “Lancashire is a strong and vibrant economy and home to a vast number of successful businesses. However, some companies struggle to access funding through traditional means which is where Rosebud can play a vital role.”

Businesses interested in applying for Rosebud finance can do so through the county council website or Boost Business Lancashire. Applications for finance will be considered from businesses based in the administrative area of the council.

“Alongside GC Business Finance, the Growth Company is heading up a new initiative that has been launched across Lancashire to boost business productivity. Skills Support for the Workforce is a fully-funded programme designed to help employers bridge skills gaps in their organisation through bespoke training. Businesses can access a range of accredited and non-accredited programmes to help them upskill their staff – helping employees to progress in their careers. Skills Support for the Workforce aims to enhance staff productivity, increase morale and improve staff retention in organisations across the county”.

 

If you’d like more information on Skills Support for the Workforce in Lancashire and to see if your business is eligible, call 01772 920 750 or email WorkforceLancs@gcskills-support.uk.

Sell-Out Flag Market Event a Quadruple Win for clients Invoke Media

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Invoke Media celebrate collaborative success of landmark local event

Preston based marketing agency Invoke Media are celebrating a quadruple win after last week’s successful Prestfest event on Preston Flag Market.

The annual event is organised by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce’s Preston Business Improvement District (BID), with the intent of bringing thousands of party goers into the city centre to stimulate the night-time economy & celebrate the coveted purple flag accreditation.

This year’s sell-out event has surpassed all previous years in terms of attendance, economic impact and customer feedback.

The planning and execution of the event has been led by Preston BID, alongside a careful selection of expert providers from the Preston and Central Lancashire area. 

Invoke saw three of its key clients involved in the event. Preston BID as the event organiser, Get Staffed providing the bar and hospitality team, and UK Media & Events as the event management and production agency. 

In addition to client involvement, Invoke Media took the marketing lead for the event for the third year running, providing paid social advertisements, messenger marketing, live video streams and overall marketing consultancy & support; helping Preston BID sell 95% of its online tickets before the event.

Jack Barron, Director of Invoke Media said:

“It’s one of those rare occasions where we get to collaborate with multiple key clients on the same project. It was a great experience to work with like-minded people, each an expert in their own field, to put together an excellent event that has driven thousands of people into the city centre. Our involvement and that of three key clients makes this a quadruple win for us and extremely satisfying.”

He continued:

“The main reason we moved Invoke Media to Preston from Manchester was to support and be a part of the development & investment that is happening in our city, my hometown. It’s events like this, local collaboration and hard-working organisations like Preston BID that are driving growth and making us a true contender in the region, we can’t wait until next year”

Mark Whittle, Manager of Preston BID said:

“Preston BID worked with a close-knit team of local trusted businesses, to plan and execute our most successful event to date. By working with Preston businesses we’ve not only ensured a sell-out, well-run event; we’ve fed back into the local economy and supported chamber members.“

Further Information

Invoke Media is a marketing agency based at Preston’s Cotton Court Business Centre. Incorporated as a limited company in 2013 and operating from Manchester city centre, it returned to Preston in summer of 2018 to support the development of the city and local area. 

Working with local success stories such as the San Marco Group, GetStaffed, Baluga Bar & Club, Cotton Court Business Centre and the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, they have truly ingrained themselves in the local economy and the success stories it creates.

Start-up Competition Winner!

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Cotton Court Business Centre’s Start-Up competition reached its pinnacle on Friday 17th May with the top 3  finalists coming into Cotton Court to pitch their ideas to our expert panel.

We had some amazing pitches from all the finalists and some lively debates amongst the panel! The top prize went to the winner on the day, Craig Wilson of Blox Mobile Storage!

Craig has created a custom-built delivery trailer which gives Blox Storage the unique ability to deliver walk-in sized, weatherproof containers directly to your home or business for you to pack in your own time. Blox Storage then collects and store the container in their secure warehouse, with onward delivery available anywhere.

The Start-Up Competition launched in March and budding and established entrepreneurs from across Lancashire took part in the competition for the chance to win a prize valuing nearly £20,000.

The competition saw entrepreneurs from across the Red Rose County pitch for a chance to win everything they need to start, build and expand their business.  Twelve finalists came into Cotton Court to film their business pitches, then the top 3 pitched their ideas in a Dragon’s Den style format to our expert panel, which was made up of some high profile business experts in Lancashire, including:

Andrew Leeming –  Programme Manager at Boost Business Lancashire

Heather Waters – Enterprise Manager at NatWest

Robert Binns – Director, Cotton Court Business Centre

Dharma Kovvuri – Dean of Burnley Campus, UCLan

Paul Woodburn – Partner, WNJ Accountants

Steph Harding, Commercial Manager, Wallace Digital

Michael Finnigan – Founder,  i2i

Alistaire Jama – Managing Director, Kennedy Ross Consulting

Amy Blundell, Manager, Cotton Court Business Centre said “We are absolutely delighted to support future entrepreneurs from Lancashire. Myself, Robert and the team at Cotton Court are really looking forward to working with the competition winner and finalists. The competition is an excellent platform for local entrepreneurs to get their business off to the best possible start, with the help of professional support from the panel and advisors.”

On Friday, we also saw inspiring pitches from runners up Laura Jeffers of Asikara and Laura and Rachel Beattie of Careaux who Cotton Court and the advisors will also work with going forward.

The winner will be given a dedicated package of benefits including a desk space at Cotton Court, marketing and design support, mentoring, access to networking events, a smart telephone package, professional photography and many other benefits.

Pitching secrets to be revealed at upcoming event

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Budding and established entrepreneurs from across Lancashire are invited to learn about creating the perfect pitch.

NatWest will be holding a pitching-based taster session for its Pre-Accelerator programme at Cotton Court Business Centre, Preston. The session will coincide with the Cotton Court Start-Up Competition which sees entrepreneurs from across the Red Rose County pitching for a chance to win everything they need to start, build and expand their business.

Heather Waters, Enterprise Manager at NatWest, said: “During our Pre-Accelerator taster session, we will teach participants our award-winning pitch structure which enables entrepreneurs to confidently and effectively present their business in any given situation. Pitching is absolutely vital for skill any new business and having the confidence to deliver a good pitch can make or break a business opportunity.”

Robert Binns, Director of Cotton Court Business Centre, said: “Being able to shout about your business and tell your story is invaluable to any business person and this course will give people the opportunity to learn first hand how to accomplish this.”

Later this summer NatWest will be bringing its full Pre-Accelerator workshop to Cotton Court. The session is designed for early-stage businesses looking at ways to grow and enhance their business ideas. The programme is part of NatWest’s three-stage business accelerator scheme which is delivered across the UK.

The pitching event is on Tuesday, May 6 at the Cotton Court Business Centre from 10am to 11.30am. To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pitching-masterclass-tickets-60302903608

Press Release: Cotton Court Business Centre join Northern Powerhouse

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Lancashire Business Partners With Government Initiative

Cotton Court Business Centre join Northern Powerhouse to boost local economy

Preston based Cotton Court Business Centre have been announced as partners in the Northern Powerhouse programme, with the aim of improving Lancashire’s economy.

Building a Northern Powerhouse is about boosting the Northern economy by investing in skills, innovation, transport and culture, as well as devolving significant powers and budgets to directly elected mayors. This can’t be done without a cadre of passionate businesses and organisations, who all believe strongly in the economic potential of the North.

The Northern Powerhouse Partners Programme is a government initiative run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to build a network of partners who all believe strongly in the economic potential of the North.

Cotton Court’s involvement in the programme is a significant boost for the area, giving Central Lancashire a louder voice and representation in an exciting initiative to develop our region. With other local institutions such as the University of Central Lancashire, Marketing Lancashire and the North and Western Chamber of Commerce representing the area alongside Cotton Court, it can only be a good thing for the economy and businesses of Lancashire.

It is the role of partners to promote the strengths of the North and exciting developments in four key areas:

  • Connectivity and transport
  • Skills, science and innovation
  • Quality of life and culture
  • Devolution

Robert Binns with Jake Berry MP

Cotton Court’s Managing Director Robert Binns says:

“We’re delighted to partner with the Northern Powerhouse. We’ve been actively involved in the development of the economy of Central Lancashire for many years and feel this is the next natural step in our progression. The initiative is a great way to address the imbalance that has historically existed between the North and South. We look forward to working alongside other partners across the North of England and Wales to further develop our respective regions”.

 

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said:

“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Cotton Court Business Centre to the Northern Powerhouse Partners Programme. As a Preston based company who actively work to improve Lancashire’s economy through engagement, they are well placed to help us shape the future of our region.”

The news comes as Cotton Court prepare to announce a partnership with a number of business hubs across Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The partnership will allow the business centre users to access events and resources across all sites, as well as enable collaboration on projects and share information.  

 

About Us

Cotton Court Business Centre is a hub for enterprise and business in Central Lancashire. Located in the heart of Preston City Centre, the renovated 19th century mill provides services to over 150 businesses and organisations. From local start-ups to government agencies, Cotton Court provides a plethora of professional services including conference and meeting space, serviced offices, call handling, registered business addresses and much more.

 

In addition to the business centre namesake, The Cotton Court group of companies also includes leisure, property, tech and community interest offerings to its portfolio; with an emphasis on providing positive impact to local economy and communities.

Manchester Marketers Relocate to Cotton Court

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Manchester marketing consultancy Invoke Media has relocated its operation to Cotton Court Business Centre to support SMEs in the Lancashire area.

Invoke have been utilising Cotton Court for a number of years, making use of the second and fifth floor desk space, as well as meeting rooms to service their Central Lancashire based clients.

Jack Barron, Director, Invoke Media

Invoke director Jack Barron took on a role as Interim Marketing Director at Cotton Court in 2017, before becoming a permanent fixture in Spring of this year. This has has a direct influence on his decision to move the business to Cotton Court on a full-time basis.

“Obviously working in Cotton Court a number of days a week has had a massive impact on my decision to move the business to Preston. Whilst Manchester is only a short drive away, it has become apparent that moving between the two cities is not only inefficient, but unnecessary. Cotton Court has absolutely everything we need to run our business and provide a high level of service to our clients” says Jack. 

 

Invoke intend to make use of Cotton Court’s tech suite and virtual office services to support their move and overall operation, including the launch of a set of new services tailored specifically at Lancashire SMEs.

Invoke’s latest offerings include marketing support packages designed to make high quality marketing accessible to micro businesses, and their unique virtual marketing services aimed at SMEs who are looking to improve profitability through strategic marketing; with the flagship virtual marketing director service taking the lead.

He continues…

“We’re committed to helping micro, small and medium sized businesses achieve success. I’ll be looking to continue the work I do through Cotton Court into my own business by making marketing more accessible for Lancashire SMEs. Marketing is one of the premier components of business management & revenue generation, yet accessing it is out of reach for many. We’re hoping to change that with the new range of services we’re providing with the support of Cotton Court Business Centre”.

Invoke currently occupy space on the second and fifth floor of Cotton Court Business Centre, and make use of call handling, registered address, desk space and office services.

Find out more about Invoke Media helping Lancashire SMEs HERE.

Cotton Court Team Support Progression Day in Rochdale

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Last week a delegation from Cotton Court Business Centre attended Rochdale Sixth Form College to support a progression and employability day for Year 12 students.

Managing Director Robert Binns and Marketing Director Jack Barron travelled to the Rochdale town centre campus, to help deliver a series of events alongside employers from across the Northwest.

Jack conducted mock interviews with 20 students, grading them on criteria ranging from appearance & turnout, to confidence and preparation.

He said of his experience…

“It was a really enjoyable experience and I was happy to support it. The mock interviews were great and I got to meet a diverse group of young adults, each one of them impressing me in some way. I recall one particular student who I had an extremely lengthy conversation with and was amazed by the level of knowledge and maturity they showed. I would have hired them in an instant if in a real interview. All of them were credits to their college and I wish them luck on their path to employment”.

Meanwhile Managing Director Robert formed part of an expert panel, giving students the opportunity to hear his journey though the world of work and business, with the opportunity for a questions and answers session at the end.

Robert said of the day…

“We’re really passionate about supporting events such as this one, wherever they may be. The people that we’ve spoken to today are the future of business and enterprise, and I like to think that we’re helping them on their journey into the world of work by sharing our experiences and giving them the opportunity to ask any burning questions. It was an enjoyable experience for me and by all accounts for them also”.

The event was largely organised by employability and career placement coordinator for Rochdale Sixth Form College, Sarah Pollard. She comments:

“The students were  a real credit to the college and tackled the interviews fantastically well.  The two days are so beneficial for the students as for some it will have been the first interview they’ve ever had. The mock interview process helps the students have more confidence in themselves and their abilities. We can’t thank the businesses enough for their ongoing support, many of whom have been giving up their time on an annual basis to help make the day such a success”.

 

Cotton Court has a history of supporting young adults and those looking to progress their journey through the world of work and enterprise. In recent weeks we’ve supported several events such as the progression day at Rochdale Sixth Form, including a series of workshops for the National Careers Service and the creation of a new company, Cotton Court Futures. With more information being revealed on that project in the near future. If you have any questions or want to enquire how Cotton Court Business Centre could support you and young adults then please email info@cottoncourt.co.uk

Cotton Court Apprentice Turns Dragon

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Last week Cotton Court Business Centre apprentice Grace attended a Dragons’ Den style competition at Ashton Community Science College in Preston.

 

At the event, Year 7 & 8 pupils were set the task of designing their own healthy alternative to fizzy drinks, before then presenting their ideas back to the panel of dragons. The panel consisted of previous Ashton Community Science College students currently on apprenticeships in the local area.

 

Grace Bennett, Business Administration Apprentice at Cotton Court says:

 

“It was a pleasure to watch the students present back their ideas and see how confident they were. It was an enjoyable day and helped towards my own personal development. It was a good opportunity for me to showcase apprenticeships and talk about the positive experience I have had from learning whilst in the workplace”.

 

Jack Barron, Marketing Director at Cotton Court added:

 

“We’re really proud of what Grace has achieved in the time she has been with us and continue to support the apprenticeship scheme. She’s a credit to the company and we think it’s important for her to go out and fly the flag for those considering an apprenticeship in the future. By all accounts it was an excellent day and both her and the students took a lot from it”.

 

Cotton Court Business Centre has a solid history of supporting the apprenticeship programme, and in addition to providing apprentice placements within the centre, it proactively engages with providers, employers and students.

Think What You Want…But Think Different

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Last week our Managing Director Robert Binns flew out to Ibiza, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.

Whilst still managing a little bit of downtime to enjoy the hedonistic delights the island has to offer, Robert was there to attend a lecture by the world renowned chef Ferran Adrià on creative thinking, run in conjunction with Estrella Damn.

Considered by many as the world’s best chef, Ferran is no stranger to thinking outside the box. Best known for his outlandish creations and deconstruction of dishes, he’s turned his attention to helping others understand his creative methodology.

Known as ‘Sapiens’, the methodology and accompanying lectures aim to give a more complete and comprehensive view of the creative processes he has applied to gastronomy. The aim is to understand that something might seem simple at first sight, but can be improved if we use our creative capacity to the maximum. Whilst food may be his example, the process can be applied to whatever your passion or profession may be.

The invite only event featured an international audience, all looking to expand their capacity for creative thinking. We’re all looking forward to hearing the key takeaways (pun intended) that Robert got from the lecture in our next team meeting.

 

Preston wins back talent from Manchester to support growth 

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Preston based group of companies hires new Interim Marketing Director to support local growth  

 

The Preston based group that operates Cotton Court Business Centre and operates a number of leisure, tech and property businesses, has appointed an Interim Marketing Director on a 6-month agreement to support a period of growth & development.  

Jack Barron, who is originally from Preston, joins the group after a number of years living and working in Manchester. The 30-year-old initially moved to Manchester to pursue a career within a city centre media agency, working his way to becoming a director in the company, and achieving his Masters from Manchester Metropolitan University.  He broke away last year to set up his own consultancy business, specialising in helping small to medium sized businesses, a business he still operates across Lancashire & Greater Manchester. 

“I couldn’t be happier taking on this role with the Cotton Court Group. There are a wide variety of businesses within the portfolio for me to get stuck into and do good work for, but I’m especially looking forward to working on the Cotton Court Business Centre side of things. My passion is helping SME’s, which aligns perfectly with what Cotton Court have been doing for many years.” The former UCLan student said. 

 

“There’s loads going on at Cotton Court in the very near future with the pods being built, expansion of our service offering, the free events and resources we’re running for small businesses and a number of things that haven’t been announced yet. It’s not just a period of growth for Cotton Court, it’s a period of growth for Preston. You only have to look at the recent investment in the City Centre and Queens retail park. I’m glad to be back and to be a part of it.” He continued. 

 

 

The Cotton Pods are a new development at the Church Street site, announced in September of this year. Utilising specially adapted shipping containers to increase the overall capacity of the site, they’re expected to be in operation early in the new year.  

Managing Director Robert Binns comments “Since the conversion of Cotton Court into a business centre, we’ve been the catalyst for a significant number of start-up businesses. We don’t intend to stop doing that any time soon, but in order for us to help more businesses we need more capacity. That’s what these pods will offer. As well as being responsible for helping us with our growth, one of Jack’s responsibilities will be to help steer the growth of our customers and other local businesses. Having worked with him before over the years, I’m confident we’ve got the right man for that job.” 

 

Big Plans: How the Cotton Pods will look at the Church Street site

Cotton Pods: Another angle

Big media hubs such as Manchester and London have historically been responsible for taking much of the young talent out of the smaller towns and cities such as Preston. The recent development and investment into Preston could prove to be a turning point for retaining & attracting that talent. The Cotton Court Group aims to build on that more by funneling new Manchester based talent through its new Media City office on Salford Quays, and back towards its other businesses in Preston. 

“It’s very positive news to learn about Cotton Court’s expansion plans.  As a city we’ve already seen the business centre grow and develop to support many fledgling businesses and the wider city community.  The organisation has actively embraced city life and are exemplary in their corporate social responsibility strategy.  2018 will be an exciting year for the city and it’s great that businesses like Cotton Court are pushing from the front to add value to Preston’s city centre” said Mark Whittle, Manager at Preston Business Improvement District. 

Already in post, Jack has started work on a number of important projects. “I’ve really hit the ground running thanks to the support of Robert and the team. I think it’s especially nice and certainly reflective of the group ethos, that my first project was working on the Barnardo’s Christmas Toy Appeal and the next one was involvement in a free event for local entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m looking forward to working across the group portfolio but especially working with local small businesses to help them develop & grow alongside the rest of the City”. 

 

 

19th Century Mill: Still home to hard working Lancastrian’s

 

Cotton Court is an old 19th Century Mill, providing incubation for start-ups and services for small to medium sized businesses. It provides physical office space, hot desks and conference space, as well as virtual & administrative services. It acts as the flagship business and headquarters for the Cotton Court Services group, which boasts a portfolio of leisure, property, tech and social enterprise operations.