It’s been an incredibly busy and successful 2014 for The Creative Quarter and the Initiative is going from strength to strength. This has included the launch of The Creative Quarter Toolkit which outlines our vision and plans to develop the initiative from now until 2023.

This year we had our first birthday which was celebrated by a fabulous picnic held at St Mary’s Church in May. We also issued a publication featuring stories of some well-known and not-so-well-known CQ-based entrepreneurs who have grown companies and global businesses from the seeds of an idea. These passionate people are the drivers of the CQ and the publication (which has been circulated to coffee-houses, bars and venues across the CQ and the city) celebrates their energy for turning ideas into reality and creating jobs and ‘good growth’ in the city.

There has also been some great news around capital projects in the area. The commencement of the refurbishment of the buildings at Sneinton Market on Avenues A to C and the refurbishment of The Factory at Dakeyne Street  are transformational projects for the Carlton Road area. The highways team at Nottingham City Council and the public realm team are labouring hard to make The CQ public realm more welcoming, build a café culture in the area and make it easier to walk around, cycle around and to access what the CQ has to offer.

It’s also been a good year for working in partnership. The CQ is a key collaborator in Nottingham’s City of Football Programme and The bid for Nottingham to become a Unesco city of Literature. We have partnered with theWorking With You Programme at NTU to develop Gaming Futures a series of events to support games developers and new gaming SMEs, as well as working as a key partner with the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Screen Research on The relatively new Nottingham Screen Partnership.  The Articulture project was also a partnership with an artists, horticulturist and 30 retailers in the area to bring greenery and colour into the industrial landscape of the area and was appreciated by many who visited.

We have had a busy year supporting businesses in the area to take on apprentices and launched our E-Book Guide to Taking on an Apprentice, as well as signposting businesses to the wide range of business support that is available to help them grow. Overall since we started operation, over 200 businesses have received support from the CQ and over 150 businesses have received financial support to help them grow. The Next Business Generation programme, based at The Pavillion at Lace Market Square, has done a tremendous job working to accelerate the growth of companies working in the life sciences, cleantech and digital content sectors, while theBroadway Projector and Real Creative Futures have supported a host of creative businesses to start-up and begin to grow.

In 2014 we welcomed Rough Trade and GameCity to the area. Both internationally-recognised brands, they will bring new visitors into The CQ and add immensely to the cultural life of the place as well as creating a host of new jobs and employing many local people. Rough Trade’s upstairs retail units have also added significantly to the shopping offer of the CQ and we’d urge you to go and explore this new retail haven at 5 Broad Street. Along with this, many other new businesses have chosen their CQ as their home. We hope you love working in this area and that you will get in touch with us regularly to access our support and share your success stories with us.

The CQ also saw the arrival of Nottinghamshire Pride in the CQ and the return of the Hockley Hustle. Nottingham Contemporary celebrated a fifth birthday and Broadway opened their Near Now space – a hands-on practical space for innovators, entrepreneurs, do-ers and 21st century makers. And at a grass-roots level the tech and meet up scene has never been busier. Tech Nottingham, Second Wednesday, First Tuesday, IndieCity, Dot-Net Meet ups and many, many other events bring great speakers into the area, to share their ideas, knowledge and skills and create a genuine sense of a business community in the CQ. Thanks to all whose efforts make this possible.

2015 promises to be a great year too – full of new projects. In 2015, Sneinton Market will be completed and opened, Cobden Chambers will be fully open and functioning as a genuine retail incubator for the city and we will be producing a Visitor’s Guide to The Creative Quarter highlighting the great retail and leisure businesses in the area as well as its identity as an alternative and independent shopping district. Our events programme will go from strength to strength with a host of business and cultural events animating the area and bringing businesses and people together from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. In 2015 we are working with one Nottingham and a range of other partners to shine a spotlight on the creativity and enterprising skills of Nottingham’s young people, as well as animating the area through art, horticulture and light. Development work will also commence on the Skills Hub for Broadmarsh East as well as the new Biosciences expansion building to sit alongside the phenomenal success story that is BioCity for the life sciences sector.

All of this success builds upon the hard work and commitment of businesses of all kinds who have been based in and working in the area for a long time, many of them for 20 or 30 years. The Creative Quarter owes them an enormous debt.