Bridport LSI Open for Business
Following the recent unveiling of Bridport’s iconic Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) in February, the venue held its Official Opening on Friday 27th April.
Dorset LEP secured £56,250 via the Government's Local Growth Fund, which was awarded to Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT) towards the restoration and conversion of the LSI building to support provision of services for local economic growth.
BADT Chair, Trevor Ware, opened proceedings by welcoming guests and speakers and explaining how the LSI has made its journey from endangered building to a state- of-the-art space for business and collaboration, with generous support from charities and personal donations. The BADT is itself a charity led and run by volunteers and the LSI will need to be self-financing, through income from the facilities as well as through fund-raising.
The campaign to save the condemned building began some 14 years ago. The restored and converted Grade 2* Georgian Institute has finally emerged into the 21st century as a unique building which is now a special 'incubator' space for budding entrepreneurs. It has many features including superfast broadband, fully AV-equipped meeting rooms and desks for hire by the day.
The beautiful main room is occupied by The Alembic canteen, which serves excellent, locally-sourced meals, and provided refreshments to guests at the opening. The Alembic is open to the public 6 days a week.
Sir Oliver Letwin MP spoke enthusiastically about the building describing it as, “A wonderful mixture of the modern and the old brought together in a most sensitive way…”
The Heritage Lottery Fund was represented by Evelyn Stacey who explained why HLF had been so keen to support the project, saying, “…Providing learning opportunities was something we were very keen to support”.
Dorset LEP Chair Jim Stewart said: “Dorset LEP is delighted to have been able to support the development of this impressive new workspace which is helping to meet the needs of existing businesses, whilst enabling new ones to grow. It is fantastic news for both businesses in the west of Dorset and for the wider local economy, and we wish it every success.”
Mayor Anne Rickard spoke of the significance that the LSI project holds for Bridport, “…this wonderfully renovated building is a sheer delight and we must remember that this is actually the third very large project of its kind undertaken within Bridport for which Heritage Lottery Grants have been awarded. This says so much for our town, in having buildings which are worth looking after, and being able to create the ability to deliver such a wonderful outcome”.
About the Local Growth Fund
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.
That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
A total of £98.5 million for Dorset has already been successfully bid for by the LEP in Dorset Growth Deals, which aim to bring together local, national and private sector funding to unlock and unblock key housing and employment sites, create more highly skilled jobs, and support economic growth.