VIP guests including the city’s Lord Mayor joined project partners and community members at Leeds Media Centre in Chapeltown to celebrate the opening of its new hi-tech business hub.  

The building underwent a £1.8 million redevelopment last year to create extra business space and boost opportunities for aspiring local entrepreneurs.

The scheme was delivered by Unity Enterprise – a not-for-profit subsidiary of BME housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise – in partnership with Leeds City Council and the European Regional Development Fund.

Leeds City Council, which owns the building, also provided £80,000 from the Innovation@Leeds capital fund to equip the new business hub with furniture, video conferencing facilities and computer hardware.

Speaking at a special ceremony to mark the completion of the hub kit-out, Unity Enterprise chair Sharon Jandu OBE paid warm tribute to Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Cedric Boston, Unity Enterprise Manager Adrian Green and Leeds City Council Head of Business Support Phil Cole and their teams for successfully completing the building refurbishment and business hub. 

“This is a real celebration because it has taken a lot of hard work to get here,” she said. “These projects are instrumental for our community. 

“To have an enterprise hub at the heart of the community with high level people bringing in their resources and social capital will provide a huge lift.”

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Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, unveiled a commemorative wall plaque. She said: “There is something about the structure of this building.  It encourages entrepreneurialism, it encourages success, it encourages looking upwards and feeling hope.

“A new generation of entrepreneurs will really do well here. It is fantastic. It will do wonders, not just for the local community, but for others as well. 

“On behalf of the city of Leeds, I really welcome from the bottom of my heart initiatives like this.  They make so much difference to so many people.”

The gathering also heard a short address from Hanif Malik OBE, director of the Parklane Foundation.

He told guests: “People living in inner-city localities should not have second class facilities.

“Being originally from Chapeltown, it is brilliant to see the quality of this building.  It is only through having this class of facilities that we can inspire the next generation. 

“When I visit centres like this, it is always important to get past the actual bricks and mortar. Yes, the façade looks brilliant and when you walk in it is brilliant, but centres do something more than give you access to what I would say are international class facilities. 

“What they do is inspire hope and enhance aspiration.  The most important thing we can give, particularly to our younger generation, is hope.

“Through having something as brilliant as this, if we can inspire that hope, if we can provide that inspiration and, most importantly, we can retain that rich cultural heritage then I think that it itself will be a fantastic achievement.

“Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in this development. I wish it all the best.  May it inspire the next generation of business and social entrepreneurs.”

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