Leicestershire firms prepare for major property fair push
Leicestershire businesses are set for their biggest marketing push at Europe's largest property fair in five years.
The annual MIPIM event in Cannes, south of France, is considered the key destination for developers wanting to attract investment and occupiers.
A Leicestershire delegation, headed by Leicester's elected mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton, will aim to attract major businesses to the county.
The Team Leicestershire mission to next month's conference is being funded through sponsorships from 15 businesses.
The delegation will offer the largest number of major development opportunities in the county since the 2008 credit crunch. It will also use the discovery of Richard III's remains in Leicester to help promote the county.
Planned multi-million-pound expansions of Loughborough University science park, Mira motor research complex, near Hinckley and Watermead Business Park, in Syston, could create thousands of jobs.
There are also proposals to create a business village at Donington Park.
Business leaders were disappointed last year when Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), the group which oversees the county's economic growth, did not send an official delegation to MIPIM.
Supporters of the event say the £25 million Colton Square office complex, in Leicester, only got off the ground after its developer advertised the scheme at MIPIM, which this year takes place between March 12-15.
Tom Watkinson, managing director of Raynsway Properties, of Thurmaston, who wants to create business units at a 58-acre site near the firm's Watermead Business Park at Syston, is part of this year's Team Leicestershire delegation.
"It's a number of years since Leicestershire had a presence as significant as this at MIPIM," he said.
"We have a lot of land we want to bring to the market. We are going to looking to finance for the project.
"MIPIM is the biggest property show in Europe, and probably the biggest in the world.
"In my opinion, you couldn't spend three days doing anything more productive.
"People who dismiss it as a bit of a jolly don't know what they're talking about. It's really hard work." Jane Taylor, a director at commercial property agent Lambert Smith Hampton's Leicester office, which is one of the sponsors, said: "It's important for us to support the city and county.
"Leicester needs to shout about what it has because it has a lot to offer."
Andy Macdonald, who is overseeing the £300 million Mira Technology Park development, near Hinckley, said he would be looking to attract funding for the scheme at MIPIM.
"It's very positive for the county," he said.
"I know LLEP have done a huge amount of work on this."
Leicestershire delegations at MIPIM have caused controversy in previous years because they were partly publicly funded.
Sir Peter and Coun Rushton's visit is to be funded entirely by private sector sponsorship.
The sponsors are: Mira, Raynsway Properties, Roxhill, Summers Inman, Total Property Solutions, MDA Consulting, Code Student Accomodation, Gateley, Pick Everard/Donington Park, Innes England, Freeth Cartwright, Loughborough University, Lambert Smith Hampton, ProCon and Leicester Tigers.