Work has started on a new hub to house creative businesses in Hartlepool, an initial led by the local council and part funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
The project sees the Grade II-listed, former Post Office building in Whitby Street transform into a new £3m business centre dubbed the BIS.
The centre will encourage business start-ups in the creative industries sector and provide specialist support for them.
Local firm Gus Robinson Developments is undertaking the work, which will involve building refurbishment and extension to create 28 studio units of various sizes for businesses, including a mix of workshops and office space.
Other facilities will include meeting rooms and a shared social space which can also be used for events and exhibitions.
Hartlepool Council will run the centre with the support of Cleveland College of Art & Design, which recently opened its new £8m campus in neighbouring Church Street.
The BIS is expected to open its doors next summer, and is part of wider plans by the council and partners to regenerate key areas of the town under the banner of the Hartlepool Vision.
Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of the council’s regeneration services committee, said: “There’s a wealth of fantastic young talent coming out of Hartlepool’s colleges and this great new centre will help to keep those young people in the town when they graduate.
“The BIS will provide an ideal environment in which new businesses in the creative industries can take root and grow, creating more local jobs and adding to Hartlepool’s reputation for new ideas and enterprise.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “Supporting start-up businesses, which can create employment and be part of the economic growth of the Tees Valley, is essential and this new centre will be a valuable resource for the area.
“The Tees Valley has a strong digital and creative sector, led by talented and skilled local people who will benefit greatly from this important regeneration project.”