Latest News | 29 February 2024

Making Derby the best it can be is a family affair

Derby City Council
Derby Theatre
Derby Museums Trust
Wavensmere Homes
St. Modwen Logistics
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It is often said that you can choose many things, but you can’t choose your family.

Of course, I wouldn’t swap mine for anything (although ask me again when my toddler throws a hissy fit when I tell him it’s bedtime!).

Neither would I on a professional level – as a Derby-born chap, being part of the city’s ‘business family’ is something I’m particularly proud of.

In February, that family came together for Marketing Derby’s Annual Business Event.

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in leaving Derby Theatre’s auditorium feeling inspired, humbled and proud to be part of this magical thing we call ‘Team Derby’.

As the dust began to settle, I started to listen to people’s feedback.

One particular comment that resonated actually came from one of our own team here at Marketing Derby, who remarked that it felt like one big family coming together.

A big family indeed – around 450 people packed into Derby Theatre that morning.

That’s an awful lot of birthdays to remember, not to mention Christmas cards!

But it’s true. It did feel like a family – and when you think about it, we are.

Our Bondholders all support one another – and share the common goal of making Derby a better place.

Here at Marketing Derby, we want to encourage more people – not just from the business community – to join us in that quest.

This was the original thinking behind the creation of the Derby City Lab.

Following the end of the ABE, some of us took to the escalators inside the Derbion to visit the new incarnation of the lab, which is now housed in a unit on Level 2 of the centre.

An invited group of VIPs came along to witness the ribbon-cutting and explore the new-look lab, whose centrepiece is the brand-new Derby City Model.

I know I’m biased, but the new lab is really impressive – and I hope you will all pop in and spend some time in there once it opens to the public on Monday 4 March.

And, come on, who doesn’t love a model!  Included on that incredibly detailed model are new developments and those in the pipeline.

All of the buildings are painted white, except the pipeline projects, which are a shade of grey.

I hope the model-makers have plenty of white paint to hand, because such is the pace of Derby’s regeneration, those grey buildings will soon be turning white.

Surveying the model, I started to pick out some of the newer developments, such as Wavensmere Homes’ Nightingale Quarter scheme.

That development was in the news again in February – with the opening of a stunning £1 million luxury restaurant on the site called The Pepperpot.

I then surveyed the city centre, where a number of ‘grey’ buildings (not in the derogatory sense) could be found.

Perhaps the greyest of them all (now I mean it in the derogatory sense) is the former Assembly Rooms.

Can you believe that it will be 10 years this month since it closed?

I clearly remember the day when the fire happened. I was in the newsroom at the Derby Telegraph, doing my business editor thing, when the newsdesk was suddenly bombarded with calls saying that the building’s car park was ablaze.

A reporter and a photographer rushed out to the scene. The first images sent through the newsroom were pretty dramatic.

Little did we know at the time that the fire would spell the end of the Assembly Rooms as a functioning venue – but none of us thought the building would be left to stand empty for a decade.

However, all that could be set to finally change. In February, Derby City Council announced its preferred development partner to drive forward the regeneration of the city centre.

And a site that will form a key part of those future plans will be the former Assembly Rooms.

Away from the city centre (and not included on the model) is St. Modwen Park Derby – a brand new business park being created by St. Modwen Logistics.

This scheme is rapidly taking shape – and is attracting international companies.

In February, Swedish-owned medtech Getinge officially opened its new UK headquarters and Global Centre for Excellence for Chemistry at the site.

This was quickly followed by South Korean car giant Kia cutting the ribbon in its new UK training academy at St. Modwen Park Derby.

A third international firm, German-owned heating technology firm Vaillant, has also taken space at the site.

These are all examples of Derby attracting major overseas investment – something which was recognised by the FT’s prestigious fDi European Cities and Regions of the Future 2024 rankings.

The rankings recognise cities across Europe who have the best strategies for attracting overseas investment.

In its category, Derby was ranked the best in the UK and third best in Europe. Oh, if only the football team were that good! One day, who knows.

Talking of Europe, in February it was revealed that Derby Museums’ Museum of Making had been shortlisted for European Museum of the Year.

This is just reward, not only for the fact that it is an amazing place to visit, but for all the hard work its staff and volunteers put in to get it back open again following the floods.

Like any good family does, at the time, the Derby community rallied round to support the museum in its hour of need.

That was just one example of how we support one another in Derby.

But as a city with one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK, there is still so much more we need to do to ensure that everyone in this family of ours is supported.

Anyway, have a safe and productive March and I look forward to catching up again with you soon.

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