Barnsley’s creative and digital sector puts town on the map

Published 1st July 2013 at 1:12pm

Barnsley has gained European recognition for the way its creative and digital sector is being helped to grow and support the borough’s economic growth.

The URBACT ‘City Action on Jobs’ report, published on-line, highlights how CDI companies are nurtured and supported in the South Yorkshire town. The report says that the thriving sector plays a vital role in helping other sectors such as manufacturing, trade and service industries to develop and create jobs.

There are about 500 CDI sector companies registered in Barnsley working in design, photography, marketing, software and computing; music, craft, print, social media and architecture; as well as fashion, film, video and dance. Most are small and medium enterprises.

The Enterprising Barnsley business support programme offers free business coaching and support to help many of these companies develop and grow.

Tracey Johnson, of Enterprising Barnsley said: “It’s great to see Barnsley registering on the European map and being held up as a good place to run a creative business. The borough has a lot to offer creative and digital entrepreneurs.”

Barnsley is one of very few towns in UK which sits in two City Regions – Sheffield and Leeds – and so works within a two-centred economy with a combined output of over £70 billion. Manchester’s Media City is also just over the Pennines and junction 37 of the M1 is just a mile from the town centre.

Tracey said: “Established and new companies are well positioned for growth here. Our job is to encourage confidence and collaboration to strengthen the creative and digital economy in Barnsley”

Tarnished Studios is a new venture backed by Enterprising Barnsley’s ‘Genesis’ intensive business incubation programme. Its creative team moved to Barnsley from the West Midlands to set up their independent animation studio.

Tarnished Studios’ creative director Liz Paton said: “We’ve had a fantastic welcome from the business community in Barnsley and are amazed what a supportive environment exists here. There is a natural inclination to collaborate and understand each other’s business rather than keep a cool distance.”

HMA Digital Marketing has been based in Barnsley since 1995 and was a pioneer in the new media revolution at that time. Today, the company is expanding again with more work from clients such as Network Rail, 3M and the University of Sheffield. HMA is in the midst of a recruitment drive, with five new jobs filled within the last year and more to come.

HMA director Rob Hill said: “We were quite happy with 12 staff until a year or two ago, when we took a conscious decision to grow. We set ourselves the target of doubling in size from 2012 to 2015 and so far, with Enterprising Barnsley support, we are on course to do that.” The company expects to double its turnover to £1.5million by 2015.

Many Barnsley CDI businesses are based in offices within collaborative working communities at the Digital Media Centre, the Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and The Civic.

Tracey added: “The CDI sector significantly supports growth in other industries. Manufacturers, service providers, retailers and so on all need to understand and manipulate digital media, on-line marketing and brand management to boost sales and grow in today’s market place. CDI sector companies provide that expertise to clients.”

The second annual  ‘Connected Business’ event, bringing over 100 Barnsley companies into contact with CDI sector businesses will take place September 20th, organised by Enterprising Barnsley.

The URBACT ‘City Action on Jobs’ European-wide report features a case study about Barnsley’s bid to rebuild its post-mining economy through diversification and the important role of the creative and digital economy in supporting sustainable development. To read more, visit: http://urbact.eu/fileadmin/general_library/19765_Urbact_WS2_MORE_JOBS_low_FINAL_01.pdf

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA) and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre.

It is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.