Why Wigan is becoming a home for entrepreneurs

Here, in association with Wigan Council, we look at Wigan’s promising characteristics that make it a worthy home for small and growing companies.

Here, in association with Wigan Council, we look at Wigan’s promising characteristics that make it a worthy home for small and growing companies.

Wigan is home to many small and medium-sized enterprises which constitute a large proportion of the 12,000 businesses based there. While manufacturing is still a pillar of the local economy with the food and drink sectors being particularly strong, digital and creative, health, environment and professional services are all increasing in importance.

The largest private sector companies in the area are Heinz, Waterfields, AB World Foods, Hitchens/ Bakkavor and Arrow XL. Wigan also has a large number of public sector employers, the most notable being Wigan Council, NHS and Wigan & Leigh College.

The borough is fast becoming known as a place for entrepreneurs and new industries to flourish. The Old Courts Creative Arts and Enterprise Hub being a particularly strong example of this. Based centrally in the town and a stone’s throw from All Saints Parish church, the creative industries based in the building complement and support one another to achieve shared community goals and maximise arts exposure in the wider context of Wigan Borough and beyond. The converted historical building is home to an interesting selection of businesses, one of which is Microdot. 

Owner Brian Cannon is a British graphic designer, art director, band manager and music video director. He is best known for his work in the 1990s, which created the album cover for Oasis’ record breaking debut album, Definitely Maybe, in 1994. Other recognisable pieces include the Urban Hymns artwork for The Verve and two further Oasis albums; What’s The Story Morning Glory? and Be Here Now. Cannon was given The Lifetime Achievement Award by the global Annual Design Awards in November 2011.

Real ale in the area continues to thrive, this has resulted in a steady increase in the number of local microbreweries. All Gates and Prospect have both recently won awards at the SIBA North-West Beer Competition held at Bolton Beer Festival last year.

Wigan Council presents itself as ‘Open for Business’. This commitment to support firms in the borough forms part of ‘The Deal,’ the successful initiative that was launched last year, as an innovative approach to achieving savings through driving efficiency.  The Business Engagement Team is a key lever in delivering on the ‘Open for Business’ promise, as it provides free and independent access to a full range of support services. A dedicated officer is assigned as a single point of contact providing long-term support and continuity, particularly important in terms of relocation though also proving to be useful to employers already established in the borough.

‘The council’s dedicated Business Engagement Team provides a fantastic platform for us to grow the local economy,’ says Waterfield’s chairman and chair of the Wigan Forward Board, Richard Waterfield.

‘We can support the needs of businesses already here and help to attract other companies to move here and be part of our story. As someone who runs a business that dates back as far as 1926, I’m hugely proud of our borough but I don’t want us to rest on our laurels.

I’m very keen that every business gets access to the support it needs. By boosting local businesses, we’ll see growth in jobs and better prospects for everyone,’ continues Waterfield.

Wigan Council looks to help local businesses in various ways.

The Council, in partnership with Greater Manchester Growth Company, offers a Property Finder service which is free of charge, to help business owners find premises. The service provides a comprehensive list of commercial land and premises within the Wigan Borough, covering both council owned and privately owned land and premises.

  The council can also work on a one-to-one basis offering advice on land and premises availability, potential investment opportunities, and recruitment requirements.

In terms of funding, there is support available for new businesses.  This may not always be in the form of grant assistance but through start up loans for eligible clients. Wigan Council works with partners across the borough to ensure that any new business receives one-to-one tailored support. 

Another form of local business support, that has been hailed as a success regionally, is the annual Wigan business expo. Now in its sixth year, the expo has been key in allowing local, regional and national firms who have interest in the borough to network directly. The biggest expo of it’s kind in the region means that it has become an event of note in the business calendar, with more than 2,000 people attending at the DW Stadium last October.

Wigan is committed to its ‘Open for Business’ approach and so can be reached through email business@wigan.gov.uk, called on 01942 489190 or visit the Council’s website.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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