Since its inception in 2013 Nottingham’s Creative Quarter (CQ) has supported the creation of an estimated 1,000 jobs. Operating in an area embracing the Lace Market, Hockley , BioCity and Sneinton Market, its aim is to deliver business development, jobs and a culture ripe for entrepreneurship. But now under a new chairman, the focus of the company is set for a tweak which aims to take Nottingham to the next level.
Susan Hallam, founder of digital marketing agency Hallam Internet, has succeeded Craig Chettle, chief executive of Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Confetti Media Group, who held the position for three years.
Mrs Hallam, who was awarded an MBE last year for services to entrepreneurship, innovation and her career in digital marketing, has paid tribute to her predecessor and the work the Quarter has done to raise the city’s profile.
But she has big plans to move the work that has been done to date forward.
She said: “I am looking to continue the good work he has done, but there are two main areas I want to focus on.
“The first thing I want to look at is we don’t just want one section of the city to be creative, we need to be a creative city in its entirety, so I would like to ensure the CQ programme reaches entire city.
“The second thing is we have had a very good focus on start-up businesses and smaller owner-managed, designer-maker businesses.
“I would like now to shift focus on to scale up businesses, which are going to go from three employees to 30 employees, so we are back to the economic development agenda, that is the big thing I want to look at.
“What do scale ups want? NTU has an exceptional scale up programme, the City Council is behind it and I think that is what will really put Nottingham on the map as a creative city.”
The company itself is jointly owned by the City Council and NTU and was set up as the coalition Government’s City Deal.
It has been involved in mentoring start-up businesses and working alongside side them, as well as the hugely successful regeneration of Sneinton Market.
Mrs Hallam, who also wants the CQ to focus on innovation during her tenure, feels that track record demonstrates the company has the potential to go further with what it offers and achieve her goals.
She said: “If we look at what is happening in Nottingham in the fin tech (financial technology) sector, there are huge things happening and marketing sector, the games sector, huge things are happening.
“I think Nottingham is perfectly placed to grasp the opportunities and there are a lot of things happening already.
“The role of CQ is to bring these initiatives together. The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts so one of the first things I will be doing is going to go out and do roadshows and talk to business owners and ask them what they want from the CQ and what they need to be successful.”
Mrs Hallam, who taught at NTU for eight years, believes the work already taking place in Nottingham and the institutions in the city will generate jobs, including the renovation of Nottingham Castle.
“Sometimes we forget to count Nottingham’s jewels”, she said, pointing to our two universities, central location and developments further afield such as East Midlands Airport.
Describing Nottingham as a “great brand”, she believes that not only is the city perfectly placed but the time is right to take the opportunities available to it.
Current bosses at the CQ have welcomed Mrs Hallam’s vision for the company.
Mr Chettle, an original board member, led the company transition from its previous ownership and management to the new city council and NTU partnership. He will remain a board member alongside NTU pro vice-chancellor, Barbara Matthews, city council leader Jon Collins and Councillor Nick McDonald.
Mr Chettle said: “Susan Hallam has a range of experience and personal qualities that will be of enormous benefit to the company as it moves firmly into the next phase of its development.”
Councillor Collins said the appointment of Mrs Hallam was a mark of the importance of the Creative Quarter’s potential to contribute even more to Nottingham’s future economic success.
Professor Edward Peck, NTU vice-chancellor, added: “We are committed to supporting the development of local creative and digital businesses which are crucial to the growth and vibrancy of Nottingham’s economy.”