The recovery, from the banker-induced recession as well as August’s riots, and the rebuilding process in Croydon will need development from more than just multi-national businesses and millionaire property speculators, and at least one local resident, Saif Bonar, is doing something about that.
Now, Bonar wants to break out of the virtual world, and have Croydon as a physical hub for technology businesses.
CR0tech was launched at the Federation of Small Business’s exhibition at the Fairfield Halls earlier in November, and aims to attract start-up and established businesses to the borough “to take advantage of its excellent infrastructure”, which means we have phone and broadband lines that work, and swift train routes into London and to Gatwick airport, “competitive rates for office space”, which means we’re cheap, “and a buoyant labour market”, which means there’s a large and still growing number of skilled but unemployed locals.
Bonar says he was inspired to set up the project “after observing how the riots destroyed swathes of the town centre”. Thus CR0tech was born.
“Until the recent riots I played no part in Croydon’s community. I just saw it as a convenient place to live with comparatively modest house prices for London,” he said. “The destruction which unfolded on 8/8 grabbed my attention and got me thinking about how I could contribute to the efforts to rebuild the town and how I could use my skills and experience to provide a positive and sustainable contribution.
“The riots were a key shock factor which motivated me to do something positive. I am pleased that I did and as a result, I’ve already met dozens of great people that live and work in Croydon.
“Croydon has some of the best transport infrastructure in the UK. It is 15 minutes from London and 15 minutes from the countryside. The abundance of commercial property, ambitious regeneration plans and a range of other factors combine to make it a very appealing proposition for any business looking to keep costs down in the current economic climate.”
Bonar has received no financial help at all from the local council. He intends to work with other agencies in the area in order to meet its objectives, starting with “dedicated full-time co-working facility offering a low-cost, flexible home to technology and creative start-ups and entrepreneurs”.
Bonar has just started negotiations on a physical premises near Surrey Street which he hopes to open by March. “We are unable to reveal the precise location at this stage, but it will be in the region of 5,000 sqft and equidistant from East and West Croydon stations. The Hub will initially offer low-cost flexible work space, meeting rooms, a training space and a cafe.
“We would like to expand on this over time and with sponsorship to add a multimedia suite including recording studio and potentially a TV studio. While the main focus is to provide support for technology and creative professionals in Croydon we intend to also develop a series of events and workshops to engage the wider community in areas of technology and digital media.”
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