Free stalls in Dudley to attract fresh town traders
New rent-free market stalls will be made available as part of a trade initiative to bring in budding entrepreneurs to Dudley.
At least five rent-free pitches are going to be created on the historic Dudley Market place in three months' time to sell their goods.
Dudley Council is working with the National Market Traders Federation on the scheme which could mean traders win a year's reduced rent.
The council-run market has signed up to a scheme called First Pitch to give business owners the chance to trade for up to 12 months at a discounted rate with personalised support from the federation.
Those who successfully apply to the scheme by submitting their product idea at www.nmtf.co.uk by March 15, will initially get up to five free days of trading on Dudley Market during national 'love your local market' fortnight between May 15 and 29.
During this time a national judge will visit and assess the trader before drawing up a shortlist of the best new businesses from across the UK to receive a year of reduced rent and other benefits.
Deputy council leader and regeneration boss Councillor Shaukat Ali said: "This initiative is a really exciting opportunity for anyone considering starting their own business to keep their overheads down while they try something new.
"We hope that this scheme, as part of our wider regeneration plans, will help us maximise the market's potential and encourage more people from the borough and beyond to visit Dudley, increasing footfall and benefiting traders and retailers in the town."
National Market Traders Federation chief executive Joe Harrison added: "Many of our well-known brands started life on the markets and we know many people want to take that leap into starting their own business – First Pitch will give you the support you need to bring a product or service to the market.
A major £6 million revamp of the market in Dudley High Street is planned to further boost the shopping experience for customers and help increase footfall.
Members of the new Dudley Town Team group are also looking to open separate evening and Sunday markets to run in the town to help boost trade following the success of a similar event in Walsall.
Other ideas include setting up a tourist information hub in the town centre and encouraging the use of empty shops for community projects.
There will also be a greater focus on tourism and linking the High Street with existing attractions, such as Dudley Zoo and Dudley Museum and Art Gallery.
Dudley lost out on the chance to become a Portas Pilot town receiving a package of support but was successful with a bid to the High Street Innovation fund instead.
Anyone interested in First Pitch or other trade offers available on Dudley Market is asked to call the market officer on 07799 070193 or 01384 815264 or visit www.nmtf.co.uk to sign up.
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