If you haven’t yet visited the Recovery Through Enterprise Hub at Rushden Lakes shopping centre, you might like to stop by next time you’re passing. While many out of town retail parks can find it a challenge to support the local small business community, Rushden Lakes is home to a few small businesses including FSB member Magazine Heaven, and - thanks to a council initiative Recovery Through Enterprise - a shop space which aims to help businesses, jobseekers and local food and drink producers.
Representatives from North Northamptonshire Council (NNC), partner groups and The Crown Estate came together on 22 July to celebrate the work that has been achieved since the Recovery Through Enterprise Hub, in partnership with Recruit Rushden Lakes, and Made in Northamptonshire store were launched in December 2020.
The combined unit at Rushden Lakes brings together a range of services focussed on helping people to upskill, find employment and access support, as well as a shop showcasing items from local food producers’ network. The community space is designed to support local rebuild and recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic.
During the event, representatives were given a tour of the unit, met with some individuals who have benefitted from the scheme before reflecting on the success, so far, of the project. They also met with local producers Nakasero and Explore Chocolate to sample their fare and hear their stories.
FSB member and director of Made in Northamptonshire Rachel Mallows (pictured far right) said ‘this is a great initiative by the North Northamptonshire Council and Crown Estates supporting small and independent food and drink producers as well as individuals looking for work. Many of our local producers have really benefited from the exposure through the Made In Northamptonshire shop. Customers love to know where and how produce is made and are so impressed with the range and quality of the offer. We signpost people from the shop to our producer premises, farmers’ markets and other independent retailers across the county – so it is a great hub for local food and drink.
Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: “The Hub opened in December but unfortunately was only able to trade for a few days before the country entered lockdown.
“We have now been back open since the end of March and is has been great to visit the team, hear about the recent successes from those who have benefitted most and the work that continues to help support our local economy and businesses at such a difficult time.”
Hannah Milne, Managing Director for Regional at The Crown Estate, said: “Since the launch of our Recruit Rushden Lakes scheme in 2017, we’ve been keen to find a physical home for the service so that more local people can benefit from employability support to secure roles at the site.
“It has been great to work with the council on our shared ambition for this, and it is great to see how it has already started to make a difference to the community and local business during these uncertain times.”
The Recovery Through Enterprise Hub, in partnership with Recruit Rushden Lakes, and the Made in Northamptonshire shop can be found at Rushden Lakes, next to the leisure complex. For more information about Recovery Through Enterprise and Recruit Rushden Lakes, visit the project’s website.