Sunderland businesses have given their overwhelming support to a new initiative created to help get the city centre back on track.

Set up by Sunderland BID, the Recovery Task Force appealed to companies from all sectors in the city to join and help respond to the current issues being faced.

And last week more than 20 businesses took part in a virtual meeting, pledging to bring their expertise to the initiative which aims to get the region on its feet post-Covid-19.

Led by Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland BID, the aim is now to set up a steering board along with a number of smaller groups, which will be assigned specific tasks.

Those groups include safety, business support, consumer confidence, getting into Sunderland and evidence and insight, with the hope that other businesses than can contribute will also now agree to get on board.

Representatives from retail, IT, law, market research, public transport, arts and culture, estate agencies and financial advisors took part in the inaugural meeting along with representatives from Sunderland City Council, the city centre Traders Association, the Police and Sunderland University.

Sharon Appleby, who was voted unanimously to chair the group, said: “It was fantastic to see the number of businesses from across every industry that have committed to work together to look at the city centre’s recovery post Covid-19.

“Everyone has been very positive and is fully behind the scheme, which is a great start.

“We can now start to make real plans to look at ways we can ensure that we come out of these unprecedented times in the best shape possible.”

The task force will be using the COVID 19 recovery framework created by the Institute of Place Management as its model, which the IPM has formed based on its years of experience and expertise in working with town and city centres, BIDs and local authorities to drive recovery and improvements.

Among the city centre businesses which have already committed to the task force are the Bridges, Richard Reed Solicitors, Pub Culture, the Empire Theatre, Sunderland Software City, Stagecoach, Port independent, Cowell George, MMC Research and Marketing and IT support company DC Services, along with Hope Wealth Management and Martin & Co.

Harrison and Brown Furniture, Bou-Chique and Alex Kirtley who is developing Mackie’s Corner have also added their weight to the growing scheme.

Sharon added: “We have seen an overwhelming amount of support for the task force but we would still welcome any other businesses or organisations that would like to be involved.”



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