Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Sunderland centre is a flagship for business

The North East Business and Innovation Centre.
The North East Business and Innovation Centre.

If you’re a regular reader of my column, you’ll know that I’ve always believed that Sunderland is an excellent place to do business, but after this week I have never been more certain.

When I came back from my holiday I felt like I needed a change of scenery and a different work environment away from my office at home…as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

So after asking for recommendations on Facebook, of which there were many (which again is a huge credit to our city), I decided to check out the BIC aka The North East Business Innovation Centre (to give it it’s full title).

After having a good look around I signed up to their Open Space, an open office where you can come and go as you please and share the space with lots of other business.

It’s got a private meeting room, kitchen and their WiFi is way better than mine at home too!

At first I thought it would just be somewhere to pop up my laptop, do some work, then leave, but it has turned out to be so much more than that.

I’ve met lots of interesting people with such a diverse range of businesses, from a niche electrical cabling business to a business that designs office chairs and tables etc to improve your posture at your desk.

I regularly hear people speaking negatively about our city, which I very much dislike. I hear people saying that there’s nothing good happening in Sunderland and that it’s a struggling city, but I couldn’t disagree more, and anyone with such opinions just needs to spend a few hours in the BIC to see all of the really cool and successful things that are happening right under our noses.

We are a city with a huge amount of thriving businesses, but more than that we are a city full of people who want to help and support each other in business.

I’ve been made to feel right at home in the BIC and have been presented with excellent opportunities to network and take advantage of their business support and mentoring services…but it doesn’t end there.

For some time now I’ve been getting up on my rant box, shouting from the roof tops that there should be more places to eat in Sunderland that serve healthy meals that also don’t cost a fortune, and I’ve found one!

The cafe at the BIC does the most lovely salad box for only £1.95. Yes, they serve chips too, but there are plenty of healthy meal and snack options too, so I am one happy bunny.

So if you’ve got a business or even if you’re just thinking about starting one, I’d certainly urge you to check out the BIC, and of course don’t forget to sample the food while you’re there too.

We have much to be proud of in our city and this flagship site for business is definitely one of them.