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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the May 2016 issue

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Business success is crucial to improving people’s quality of life, and much is being done in Boston to promote the area as a place for new and diverse business investment.

Boston Area Chamber of Commerce, through its Town Team, and Boston Borough Council have worked hard behind the scenes to encourage new businesses, increase visitor and tourist numbers and improve business representation so that the town will be a more vibrant place to live and work.

Boston’s Town Team held its first open meeting in January 2015 to give businesses the chance to hear about its activities and have their say about what can be done to improve Boston town centre.

It was re-established in March 2015 and presented its business plan in November at a special meeting of invited board members, key stakeholders and local councillors.

Jenny Elwick, from the Boston Area Chamber of Commerce which is behind the Town Team, said the business plan has been written by the board, which represents the Boston business community, following communications with Boston businesses and stakeholders from both the public and private sector

“We have come a long way since the group formed in March 2015,” said Jenny.“The business plan has helped us set our objectives and will help us achieve our goals – which are to increase visitor numbers, increase tourist numbers, increase dwell time, reduce the number of empty units within the town and improve business representation and consultation through business participation – thus making Boston a more vibrant place to live, visit and work in.

“We acknowledge our business plan is a working document and we understand that it will evolve and change as we grow.

“By implementing it, we hope that it will help enhance the vitality and viability of the town to ensure that it reaches its full potential, which will then help grow the local economy of Boston, a multicultured historic market town.”

The latest initiative from the Boston Town Team was a celebration event focusing on the tasty local produce of Lincolnshire.

The event, called Local Food for Thought, brought local producers and food experts together to help people in the Boston area improve their knowledge of healthy food, how to prepare it for tasty meals and where to buy it from.

Jenny said: “The event was fun for all the family, but had a serious message to encourage healthy eating using local produce. This is the first of many activities we’re able to bring to Boston through the Town Team.”

The Boston Town Team area is located primarily around the market place, Strait Bargate and Pescod Square. These areas contain the retail core, a large central park, markets, Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre, clubs, pubs, restaurants, fast food outlets, cinema and a number of offices.

The Boston Area Chamber is an established part of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce. It is the independent voice and representative body for the business community within Boston and surrounding areas and provides a range of high quality services in response to the needs of the members and the wider business community.

It proactively arranges networking events which encourages inter-trading amongst members and the wider business community.

Jenny, who is Boston Network Development Officer, brings more than twelve years’ experience to the role, having worked in business development and sales roles in the public and private sector across the region and beyond.

The Chamber also has close working relationships with Boston Borough Council’s Economic Development Team, and by working together it aims to increase the economic viability of the area.

One initiative from Boston Borough Council to help small enterprises succeed is Boston Enterprise Centre on Endeavour Park, which aims to be a launchpad for new businesses, particularly those one-person enterprises that operate out of a spare room at home or a garage.

The centre, in Enterprise Way, has options available to enable businesses to progress in small, affordable steps.

Centre manager Jason James explained that the centre aims to provide that first, all-important step away from home for entrepreneurs.

He said: “For some, their business may have outgrown space at home, or they need to get away from domestic distractions such as the washing machine, the kids and the dog.

“They may want to be able to present a more professional appearance – a business address, phone calls answered, especially if they are busy, or a place to meet clients and hold meetings – their living room may not be appropriate, or give the right first impression.

“Some people also like to separate home from work – to physically leave home to go to work for the day where they can concentrate fully on the business.

“We also support start-up and growing businesses enter the commercial rental market by offering reduced rents for a period of time.”

The Boston Enterprise Centre was set up by Boston Borough Council in 2008 to encourage new business development.

The managed office space, ranging from 254 sq ft to 760 sq ft, allows business owners to get on with what they do best – running their businesses – while centre staff deal with the meeting and greeting of visitors, setting up meeting rooms and the general management of the facility and grounds. Many new and smaller businesses do not have a budget for such things in-house.

Tenants have round-the-clock access to their offices. There is car parking on the site, due to be extended this year, and the managing agent, Nurture Enterprises Ltd, is bringing in a faster broadband service for the benefit of tenants and other users of the building.

Clients can just bring their own computer and mobile phone, plug in and go. There are meeting rooms for training and conferencing sessions, also available for hire by outside organisations. The modern complex also has shared kitchen space and a visiting sandwich and snacks van. Showers are also available for those who run or cycle to work.

Current resident businesses include those engaged in training, business support, and health and safety. They also include agricultural and horticultural businesses.

One tenant at the Enterprise Centre is Barrie Pierpoint who is the managing director of Business Services Lincs Ltd, providing a full range of professional business and management support services to a wide range of businesses.

It has many years’ experience in working at senior management, managing director and chief executive levels.

Mr Pierpoint said: “Operating out of the Enterprise Centre made real sense to us because of its accessibility and modern feel. The centre’s staff have done everything they can to deliver a truly outstanding service.”

Boston is Lincolnshire’s fastest growing tourist destination, which in part is due to its expanding metropolitan demographic. There has been a significant increase in the local population driven mainly by economic migration from EU countries.

This has extended the retail and food offer and has provided an international feel to the town.

Its market place is of great historical importance, located at its heart, and was one of the largest trading areas in England throughout the 16th to the 19th centuries. This area of key importance has undergone recent refurbishment and is Lincolnshire’s largest market place.

SHOPPING PARKS

As well as the market place, Boston has two very busy shopping centres: Boston Shopping Park and Pescod Square Shopping centre.

Boston Shopping Park was commissioned and built by current owners Hawkstone Properties in 2006. They carefully redeveloped the six-acre site vacated by ASDA in 2005 and have turned it into a shopping facility for all, which has the added benefit of housing one of the largest Gala Bingos in the area at the front of the site.

Its unique mix of stores includes Bath Store, Home Bargains, Morrison’s, Sports Direct, TK Maxx, Card Factory, Gendrot Web Solutions and Gala Bingo.

“It has been established nearly ten years and is a very busy place,” said centre manager Martyn Taylor. “We have 30,000 car park visits per month which would lead to an estimated footfall of 20,000 to 30,000 people a week walking on site.

“It is classed as being on the outskirts but we are located 500 metres from the town centre. It is one of the busiest parts of the town.”

Boston Shopping Park has one of the largest car parks within Boston, with 350 larger than normal spaces. It also has mother and toddler bays along with excellent parking for blue badge holders.

“We do four charity car boots a year in partnership with TK Maxx, which generate £500–£600 each. We cone off 50% of the car park and all the proceeds go to charity. Sometimes we get 100 car booters at the event.”

Taylored Security Services, a locally owned and operated business, manages the day-to-day running of the shopping park.

Pescod Square Shopping Centre was built in 2004 as an investment. It has twenty-nine retail units and a 380-space multi-storey car park.

“The centre is classed as a street scene, an uncovered centre built in sympathy with the surrounding architecture,” said centre manager Andy Pottle. “It fronts onto a conservation area and as a result it won an architectural award for its design back in 2007. Our retailers are all national names and we have a variety of small retailers including Pep & Co, which opened last April and is new to the UK.”

The centre has a flagship Greggs shop which has just undergone a recent refit and though it does have empty units at the moment, work is ongoing to find new tenants for them.

“We have three empty units but we are working hard to get them filled,” said Andy. “We are an integral part of the community and estimated footfall is three million a year, so the centre sees around 50,000 people a week.”

The centre hosts a number of events throughout the year including Easter, summer, Hallowe’en and Christmas.

It also supports the Boston in Bloom competition by decking out the centre with summer bedding plants and hanging baskets which are always well received.

CREWYARD HOLIDAY COTTAGES

Crewyard Holiday Cottages were created ten years ago by converting former farm buildings into three beautifully presented single storey self-catering holiday cottages sleeping two, three and four guests. They offer a comfortable home from home and are open all year round.

The cottages are fully equipped, have their own outdoor space with patio furniture and overlook mature gardens and a lake. There’s a games room on site with a full-size snooker table, a selection of books and comfortable seating area. Laundry facilities are available in a separate room.

They are ideally situated for visiting the Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve near Skegness, the local RSPB nature reserves at Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore and the Lincolnshire Wolds. Birdwatching trips along the river are available from the nearby market town of Boston.

This is a good base for those interested in past and present aviation, with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight based at RAF Coningsby, which is also an operational base, and the Lincolnshire Aviation Centre at East Kirkby, for visiting Lincoln Cathedral, Lincolnshire Wildlife Park or the seaside town of Skegness, which are all within easy driving distance.

There is plenty of offroad parking and free WiFi.

SPORTSBIKESHOP LTD

The UK’s fastest growing retailer of motorcycle clothing and accessories is based in Boston and is a classic example of that ‘spare bedroom’ business come good.

Sportsbikeshop Ltd works out of units on the Haven Industrial Park in Slippery Gowt Lane but is now about to expand and relocate into purpose-built premises at Kirton Distribution Park.

Business development manager Chris Winters said the business was going to move later this month (May) into a purpose-built 25,000 sq ft facility.

“As we continue to grow, we are in need of a home for the stock levels that our growth demands,” he said. “We are now the UK’s largest online retailer of bike gear but shop business has also grown in line with online.

“With that in mind, our new retail element will be five times the size of our current offering, providing the best stocked bike shop in the country.

“The idea is to offer the biggest choice of brands and the very best level of service, which has always worked for us online.

“We have some exciting things planned for the shop and we’re sure it’ll bring us customers from all over the UK as there’ll be nowhere else to go.”

Sportsbikeshop Ltd stocks more than 15,000 items in its purpose built warehouse and it is trusted by more than 100,000 bikers across the UK and Europe.

With more than thirty staff, it was named Motorcycle News Clothing and Accessory Retailer of the Year in 2013.

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