Chancellor backs new Gloucestershire business school
By Mark Owen and Andrew Merrell | 7th February 2019
If you are going to have a grand opening it is worth waiting until you have the right person for the job.
And who better to open Gloucestershire's new (ish) business school than the country's political face of business, the Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Although the £20 million building on the existing Oxstalls campus of the University of Gloucestershire has been open for some months, Mr Hammond's arrival added the kind of gravitas the powers that be wanted for an official occasion.
The building is a partnership between the university and the county's local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP and is also home to the county's Growth Hub headquarters, which supports business county-wide.
"This is a fantastic collaborative development," said Mr Hammond, who also gave a tongue -in-cheek 'thank you to the city MP, Richard Graham, in acknowledgment of his persistent efforts to draw him to the new business centre.
He also paid credit to the architects (RAA Architects of Cheltenham) who designed the eye-catching new building.
"The opening of this new school sends a very important signal. It reinforces the role of the university as one of those thriving academic centres but also as a key element of the local tech driven economy.
"I can't pretend to you that Brexit is not at the forefront of everyone's thoughts as an immediate issue we have to resolve. But we also have to think ahead to the challenges this country faces.
"We face the transition to an economy which will run on data and knowledge and we as nation much rise to this challenge to exploit the huge opportunities that lie ahead. They are opportunities that have the potential to transform our prosperity as a nation.
"We have to show we have the skills to retrain our workforce. Your strategy for this new school of business - which I like very much that conjunction of business and tech - will play a vital role in doing that for the local economy here in Gloucestershire."
Mr Graham, who introduced his Conservative colleague to the room of business people, partners and media types, said: "It is business that drives growth and skills that drive business.
"This new school and Growth Hub is extremely important as it acts as a symbol of partnerships that are being forged across the county, not just by GFirst LEP, which is key to the whole process, but with businesses of all sizes."
Stephen Marston, the vice-chancellor of the university, said: "We are seeking at this university to make a major contribution to the economic development of our county and our country and to the industrial strategy.
"Whatever form Brexit may take it is quite clear that our economic future depends on our success in promoting high skills, innovation, enterprise and creativity.
"It will depend on the application of research, new products and services and new ways of doing things. It will depend on better business manage. On all the things this university of trying to do."
David Owen, GFirst LEP chief executive, said: "This is an important project for the future of the county. It expands our successful Growth Hub model that is driving business growth in Gloucestershire and gives Business School students the opportunity to see first-hand how businesses are run, managed and supported in the county.
"This is a first in the country - a University Business School, a Growth Hub and a Local Enterprise Partnership all under one roof".
The building was supported by £5 million of Local Growth funding allocated through GFirst LEP, which also supported the initial creation of the Growth Hub.
The new building features a business incubation centre, Thompson Reuters trading room, a moot courtroom, a lecture theatre and seminar rooms designed to support best practice in modern teaching and learning, and extensive social learning spaces.
The new Business School and Growth Hub building is described as the cornerstone of the university's recent investments at its campuses in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Investment in both campuses has also included two new all-weather sports pitches and a 700-seater sports arena for both University and community use in Gloucester, new student accommodation in Gloucester City centre and at the Pittville Student Village in Cheltenham, a new Design Centre and enhanced, industry-standard facilities for media courses at the Park Campus in Cheltenham.
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