Lancaster district businesses urged to get 'Eden ready' ahead of Eden Project North coming to Morecambe
Businesses across the district have been encouraged to be prepared ahead of the opening of the much-anticipated Eden Project North.
That's the view of Bay Tourism boss Mark Prada, who spoke during an online forum held by Eden Project North today, Friday.
The public forum was one of a series of community conversations being organised by Eden, and centred around local business and how it can work with and benefit from the scheme.
Eden Project chief executive David Harland told the 150 gathered participants that the project's design work was on schedule and said "excitement is growing".
"Morecambe is our number one priority," he said.
Local business heads expressed their enthusiasm for the project, while warning firms to start thinking about how they can combine their future with Eden to boost their success.
Mark Prada, chairman of Bay Tourism, which represents more than 200 tourism businesses across the bay area, warned that while Eden will help to kick-start the Morecambe Bay economy, it should only be seen as a catalyst.
"Eden is a great addition to the area but it isn't the saviour," he said.
"Businesses need to be preparing for Eden. You can't just sit back and wait to take advantage of the situation.
"It's important that businesses don't fall behind. We want people to get themselves ready because we know what this will do for the area.
"Everybody is very excited by the thought of Eden and we just wish it was here now - the sooner the better."
Alistair Eagles, chief executive of Heysham-based Seatruck Ferries, agreed, saying: "I am a massive fan of Eden, I think it has the capacity to improve life and business in this area."
However, Mr Eagles warned that Eden should not be seen as "a magic money tree" and said bosses should think about how they can work with Eden and take on board Eden's values and ethos to maximise their own business.
"Now is the time to start thinking about what you can be doing if you want to benefit from the wider economic impact," he said.
"Eden is a catalyst for immense change and it will be amazing and we can collectively create that future, and make it what we want it to be for Morecambe, Lancaster and the wider area."
John O'Neill, manager of Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID), said he believed the project will be a springboard to bring further investment into the area, and a magnet for national and international tourism.
It will further boost the area like the Bay Gateway has done in bringing a 25 per cent increase in visitor traffic, and how TV drama The Bay has also helped visitor numbers, he said.
"As a town we have to live alongside Eden and evolve alongside it," he said. "We have got a great opportunity to redefine ourselves economically."
Emma Critchley from Eden said the project had made a commitment to work with local businsses to help them get ready for the planned opening in three years' time.
The development and construction of the site will be carried out in conjunction with local businesses and suppliers.
Local artists will also be involved thanks to funding for the scheme.
Any businesses wanting to get involved or looking for more information can email [email protected]
Eden Project North is being delivered by the team behind the first Eden Project in Cornwall and is due to open in 2024.
Planning permission is expected to be submitted to Lancaster City Council later this year.
Eden Project North is projected to attract around one million visitors a year and employ more than 400 people.
Its business case estimates a visitor spend of more than £200m per year in the region (not including money spent at Eden Project North), which would support an additional 1,500 jobs.