Suffolk town runs contest to encourage new businesses to fill 14 vacant units. Interested parties to present their business plan to a Dragon's Den-style committee.
Organised by the Newmarket Retailers' Association, the competition, dubbed 'Strictly Come Newmarket', has already attracted the attention of TV and radio companies, who will follow the events as they unfold.
An initial information day will take place on Tuesday, December 7 at the Bedford Lodge Hotel, where interested parties can find out more about the scheme, what properties are available, and receive free legal and banking advice. Retailers' association secretary Marion Green stressed that anyone who is interested in starting a business in Newmarket is welcome to come along to the event.
Candidates are then invited to pitch their ideas for the vacant unit of their choice in front of a Dragon's Den-style committee in January. The prize for those chosen on the day, includes subsidised rent for a year, money towards shopfitting, a year's free banking, as well as legal advice and support from the Retailers' Association. Sponsors for the event have not yet been revealed but look set to include a number of big names within the racing industry.
Mrs Green told DIY Week
: "We were all concerned about the empty shops. The general idea was to find sponsors for new businesses. They don't have to be brand new or starter businesses - it may just be somebody who is interested in coming to trade here."
She added: "It's also it's about what trade is suitable for the town and what new businesses would suit the area. We're not looking at the multiples. We're interested in individuals who have something to contribute... We're open to every idea and particularly small businesses."
The scheme was the brainchild of Richard Goss, who runs the town's Venus Hair and Beauty. He told DIY Week
that he is excited about the project but is realistic about the outcome: "Obviously the ideal plan is to get sponsors for all 14 units, get the owners of the buildings on board and fill them but, I do realise that may not happen. We may fill just five or six but it's still a start."
He continued: "Anyone is welcome to come and pitch but I think we'd really like individual businesses - young entrepreneurs. We'd love something individual that you can't find in neighbouring towns.,, We want to fill the empty shops we've got now and revive the town. A lot of the current businesses are really excited at the prospect of bringing people back to the town and getting people who come here to spend that little bit longer in Newmarket."
The BBC's Suffolk and Cambridgeshire radio stations have both covered the project and interviewed Mr Goss, while BBC Look East is interested in filming events.
For more information and entry forms, please email firstname.lastname@example.org