Recap - Newhaven Enterprise Zone Champions Meeting, 7th December 2022

Posted on 15/12/2022

On a wintery Wednesday morning on 7th December, we brought together representatives from businesses, community groups, local authorities and other local organisations for our Champions Meeting at the Hillcrest Community Centre in Newhaven.

It was only our second in-person meeting, but we felt the sense of familiarity and friendship in the room was testament to one of the Newhaven Enterprise Zone’s biggest successes over the past five years – building true partnerships and a spirit of cooperation around a shared vision: to deliver a new era for Newhaven as a re-energised harbour town and thriving business centre.

Celebrating five years of the NEZ was a big part of the event, with our director Corinne Day outlining key achievements:

  • 617 jobs created so far – in a town with just over 13,000 people
  • £3 million provided in cash flow to businesses, spread across approximately 39 companies – a significant amount of money for investing in staff training, equipment, etc.
  • £38 million secured through public sector funding applications, thanks to the NEZ working with partners to set out a clear ambition for the town and crafting the Newhaven Story.

Graham Peters, Chairman of Team East Sussex at the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and the NEZ board, introduced our guest speakers - LYT Productions artistic director Phil Rose and Cheeky Wipes founder Helen Rankin. Both provided a unique perspective on what makes Newhaven special.

Phil’s presentation on his work with young people through the Tide Mills Project and his events company LYT Productions (which received funding from the Newhaven Enterprise Zone and others) was both heartening and impressive. Having launched the creative heritage project the day before lockdown, it was against all odds that he managed to bring Tide Mills back to life with a series of installations and outdoor events during the project’s Heritage Celebration Week in the summer of 2021.

More than 25,000 people came to see the installations at Tide Mills over five days. Over the course of the 20-month project to unearth the area’s intriguing history, 13 local schools, 10 community groups, three colleges and 28 local artists got involved, helping to tell its story in different ways – from a Tide Mills choir to young people doing community digs and discovering an appetite for history outside of the classroom. That’s not to mention that an award-winning documentary film about the project has since won international recognition, having been selected for several film festivals, from London to Montreal.

Phil’s creative and inclusive projects to engage the Newhaven community are a great example of work the NEZ is proud to showcase and support.

His talk was followed by Helen Rankin’s story of her reusable wipes business, Cheeky Wipes – from originally setting up the business in her father-in-law’s garage in 2008 to winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Sustainable Development last year. As well as sharing what she personally loves about Newhaven – coastal views, walks and Mamoosh bakery - Helen explained how her business had benefitted from rates relief through the NEZ, which allowed her to invest in a new warehouse in 2020. This meant that when Covid hit, Cheeky Wipes had a bigger space where staff could socially distance and could remain open – and the business flourished.

Helen believes Newhaven has an opportunity to position itself as a centre for sustainability, attracting more green businesses – which aligns with the NEZ’s mission to invest in, attract and support more businesses which are doing things differently.

After the challenges of the past five years, it was greatly rewarding for us to hear such positive stories from Helen and Phil.

Before we all enjoyed some delicious homemade soup from the Hillcrest Centre and mince pie blondies from Newhaven cakemakers Got Buns Huns, Corinne outlined six objectives for NEZ champions to consider where priorities should lie and how to reinvest our annual income of approx. £850,000 and healthy reserve of just over £2 million.

These were:

  • Facilitating investment in infrastructure and development, creating space for employment
  • Targeted support for growing sectors: creative, industry, marine
  • Revitalising the town centre, reimagining and providing greater social amenities
  • Supporting businesses to reach net zero and demonstrating leadership on this
  • Ongoing promotion of Newhaven and building confidence in the town as a place to live and work
  • Building the capacity of the community and voluntary sector and improving access to the NEZ Community Fund through the Sussex Community Foundation.

The NEZ is currently working on a business plan and has recently conducted a survey among businesses who have received support so far.

A big thank you to all who came to our December Champions Meeting. To share your views on what support you think would benefit Newhaven most going forward and where the NEZ’s focus should be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through our website, or email Corinne on Corinne.Day@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

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