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Council to turn former Co-op store into business launch pad

A former Co-op store in Dover is to be turned into a new launch pad for new businesses.

Plans to turn the store into a complex of ‘incubator spaces’ where businesses can test the market for their products before moving to more permanent premises will go before Dover District Council’s cabinet next month.

The local authority bought the former store at Stembrook in April as part of its town centre regeneration and property investment plans and is now working with Dover Big Local to redevelop it.

The building sits close to the new £53 million St James’ retail park, providing an important link to the Old Town and is expected to help create additional footfall between the two locations.

The old store’s units will be ideally sized to incubate a brand new business, or perhaps nurture an existing one from being a home based operation.

‘This revitalised building will enable small businesses to try out their ideas and gives them a transition point from being a home based operation to having a full presence on our high street,’ said council leader, Cllr Keith Morris.

‘It underpins the council’s strategy to help build a thriving and attractive town centre.

‘This represents a vital step forward in our ongoing investment to rejuvenate the centre of Dover. The building is ideally placed between the St James retail park and the Old Town area for small businesses to benefit.

‘It is a bold and imaginative scheme which will further enhance the shopping experience for Dover’s residents and visitors. We want to attract a good variety of independent businesses to enrich the town’s retail offer.”

Ross Miller, Chairman of Dover Big Local, added: ‘The overall objective, of both Dover Big Local and Dover District Council, for the Innovation Warehouse is to deliver a wide range of support and facilities aimed at helping people into paid work, whether that is employment, self-employment or through setting up their own business.

‘There is strong evidence that businesses that start in incubator spaces have a significantly greater chance of long term success. We aim to further reduce the risks that starter businesses face through providing expert support, mentoring and access to training to help them develop and grow.

‘We are particularly looking to promote social entrepreneurship in order to make a long lasting positive impact for our community and address many of the issues we are facing today and in the future.’

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