Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has hailed the ‘inspirational’ Sunny Bank Mills complex in Farsley and praised the mill’s role in nurturing and encouraging small businesses to flourish.
The Leeds West MP visited the award-winning Sunny Bank to highlight the success of small businesses in the Leeds and Bradford area and to hear their stories at first hand.
During the past ten years the mill has been transformed into a modern office and mixed-use complex for the 21st century, creating 400 sustainable new jobs with almost 100 companies.
Ms Reeves met three small businesses at the mill during her visit, namely the Emma White Jewellery Studio, HR Breathing Space and Adept Consulting Engineers.
Ms Reeves commented: “It’s been so inspirational meeting small business owners. The range of small businesses here is fantastic and I’ve only managed to speak to a few. I have been especially impressed by the way in which the owners of Sunny Bank adapt their buildings to enable their tenants to grow.”
“Small business owners working with like-minded people will find synergies and inspiration here, which is beautiful. This is an old mill which has brought people together and been the catalyst for more small businesses opening on the rest of Farsley Town Street. It is inspirational what has been achieved so far.”
William Gaunt, co-owner of Sunny Bank with his cousin John, said: “It was great to see Rachel supporting some of the many small businesses we have here at Sunny Bank Mills. They are really struggling at the moment. She was keen to listen to what business owners had to say. Small businesses need all the help they can get in these days of high inflation and uncertainty.”
John Gaunt added: “We are proud of what we have achieved here at Sunny Bank Mills and it was wonderful to share some of the success stories with Rachel Reeves. In particular, it was important to show Rachel how we have nurtured some of our tenants from the start and enabled them to expand and flourish.
“All three of the companies that Rachel visited started off in smaller premises here and moved into bigger ones as they became more successful. This gives us tremendous satisfaction.”
Sunny Bank Mills is home to a variety of small businesses, as well as being a leading creative space for art, culture and business in the West Leeds area.
The first of the three small businesses that Rachel Reeves met was HR Breathing Space, who provide outsourced HR support for small to medium sized businesses that don’t have their own HR team.
She talked to the founder of the company Suzie Bogle, with Suzie highlighting the benefits of working in Sunny Bank Mills. Suzie said: “It’s beautiful. Everything is made so easy for us here. We currently have 14 staff and provide help to 70 businesses.”
She also told her how the team at Sunny Bank had helped to build an internal wall within her premises to make the space more suitable for her needs.
Ms Reeves then met Emma White in her jewellery studio, where she was holding her popular jewellery-making class. Here the Leeds West MP chatted with some of the jewellery students as well as getting a tour of the studio where Emma displays and sells her own artisan jewellery. Ms White explained how delighted she was to be based in the heart of such a wonderful community.
Ms Reeves concluded her visit at Adept Consulting Engineers, which is a consultancy firm that finds solutions to construction issues. Adept started off in a small studio space in the Festoon Rooms at Sunny Bank and now occupy a whole 4,000 sq ft floor in the 1912 Mill, with over 40 employees, including a number of apprentices.
Director Paul Gill told Rachel Reeves that the firm was very happy to be based at the mill and were grateful for the help and support provided by the Gaunts which has enabled Adept to expand within Sunny Bank, rather than relocating.