Businesses bouncing back: How creativity is helping the economy

Businesses in Birmingham are bouncing back - with a helping hand from creative start ups.

Rachel Upton runs her Upholstery business, Maybee Upholstery, from a rented studio at The Old Print Works in Balsall Heath.

She collaborates with Tracy Vincent who runs Moseley Mid Century and she works with surface pattern artist, Sarah Bagshaw, to turn designs into furniture.

Rachel says that during the pandemic having a business that relied on being creative was an extra struggle, because for many artists the stress and worry meant their creativity dried up.

But now creative businesses, like Rachel's, are not only back up and running - they're also helping to boost the local economy.

Trustees at The Old Print Works say they're now seeing a big increase in demand for their rented studios and workshops, after people "reevaluated their lives and careers" during the pandemic.

They say they're also expecting a "boom" in co-working, as many businesses choose to close their offices.

Hannah Greenwood, one of the trustees at The Old Print Works, says as more of their spaces have been rented, they've seen a knock on effect on businesses in the local area.

She says that a lot of the improvements to local businesses can be attributed to The Old Print Works, the Moseley School of Art building which is next door and the swimming baths opposite.

"We're all kind of creating a buzz here and showing people that they can be proud of Balsall Heath" says Hannah.

"That's actually something that came from a consultation we did - people told us that we were 'helping Balsall Heath be more proud'."

Hannah says that funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has been a huge help.

"There were lots of parts of our building that were unusable, or difficult to use.

For example, the space we've used some of the LEP money to refurbish that will be a meeting space - it had one double socket in a huge room and that's a huge challenge when you're trying to run an event!

Elements like that they've helped up pay for means we can now more confidently hire out space."

Anita Anita Bhalla, from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, says the funding will act like a "magnet" for other funding and investment in the area.

Anita explains that their investments have already attracted match funding worth half a billion pounds.

"In local communities, as this one, it will act as a magnet to attract other areas of growth around health, education, housing and employment and also very importantly, the development of skills" she adds.

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