One of the region’s biggest business success stories has opened its own business hub in Consett.

The unique hub which provides working space for around eight businesses as well as facilities for hot desking has been opened by MINT Business Club.  MINT was formed in 2019 by former teacher Nicola Jayne Little to help solo and micro business owners connect with others by offering training and support.

Last year, MINT became a Kickstart Gateway Provider and has since allocated more than 100 young people into work placements throughout the North East – many with businesses that are part of the MINT Business Club membership.

The new business hub occupies an historic and well-known building that was once at the social heart of Consett. The Braes Hotel was a popular hostelry in Consett dating back to the mid 1800’s and was the first hotel in the town to have running water.

As Nicola explains, the fact that the hotel was an innovative business back in its pioneering days is something that she can relate to with MINT Business Club.

“This was once a thriving business thanks to the town’s link with heavy industry and it’s ironic that although Consett has changed dramatically, we are setting up a business hub in that very building and helping other businesses to grow.”

There are currently eight small businesses occupying the hub. In addition, there are hot desking facilities, meeting rooms and a community café is on the horizon. For those members who are from the retail sector, a small shop will display and promote their products reinforcing the buy from local businesses philosophy that MINT Business Club endorses.

Getting the Braes converted has been a mammoth effort, but one which MINT members rallied round to help. “I put a call out in our membership group and asked if anyone was handy with a paint brush.

“More than 20 of our wonderful members gave up their weekend, grabbed a roller and transformed the building. I was so emotional when I saw how much help I was given to get the hub ready for business.”

Nicola has lived in the Consett area for more than seven years and has seen the town develop over the years especially within the vibrant business community.

“Consett has taken a long time to regenerate after the closure of the steel works with the loss of so many jobs. It’s taken around 40 years to see positive developments but I’m proud as a local businesswoman that I’m able to open this business hub and add to the now thriving business community.”

“When I left teaching around 13 years ago, I always dreamed of owning my own business premises. Through several successful businesses, I never did buy any property but now I know the time and the reasoning is right to buy this fantastic old building which has been at the heart of Consett for nearly 200 years. I’m looking forward to welcoming our MINT members to our open day on March 22 where I know new business relationships will be made which will mutually support and grow our network of like-minded businesses,” she said.