A NEW business centre is already booming – before it has even open its doors.
Made from 37 reconditioned shipping containers, the new co-operative business centre will open on the site of the former River Wear Social Club in Hendon early next year.
It is the replacement for the Hendon Co-op Centre in Mowbray Road, which is due for demolition in 2012.
The centre in Whitehouse Road will provide new offices and training rooms for social enterprise company Sustainable Enterprise Strategies (SES), Sunderland Homecare Associates and housing co-ops based in Hendon Co-op Centre.
Social enterprises from across Sunderland have also registered their interest to rent some of the 10,000 square metres of managed workspace.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson visited the site to perform an official turf-cutting ceremony and heard how 60 per cent of the new office space has already been reserved.
Coun Watson said: “You only have to drive through Hendon and the East End to see many successful small businesses continuing to thrive.
“The city council’s own Stansfield Centre in the heart of Hendon operates at near capacity, proving there is demand for office space here and the nearby new Software City building is also taking shape.
“I’m sure the new centre is going to be a success and its eye-catching look will act as a beacon of enterprise in the area.”
Rents and revenue from the centre will provide SES with a source of income to carry on its enterprise work in Sunderland in Hendon and across the City.
The iconic three-storey building has also provided work for North East firms, after it was designed by Newcastle-based Napper Architects and is the first of its type to be constructed by Clugston Construction in Hebburn.
SES Director Mark Heskett-Saddington said: “The building will represent the enterprising work that goes on in the Hendon area and demand is already proving that social businesses are still thriving in difficult economic conditions.
“We have been running in the North East for more than 28 years now and this new development will secure our operation as we look to support enterprise in all its forms.”
During the past financial year, SES has helped to create 27 new social enterprises and supported 163 around the region, including Sunderland and North Tyneside Home Care Associates, Compass Transport, Be Active, Be Fit and Sunderland Dance CIC.
They have a combined turnover of more than £27.5million and employ 1430 staff.