Rochdale Borough Council has been shortlisted, alongside Rochdale Development Agency (RDA), for a prestigious national accolade as part of the LGC (Local Government Chronicle) annual awards.
Rochdale borough beat off stiff competition to be shortlisted for the award for Economic Support, a new category in this year's awards.
Judges were impressed with the number of major regeneration schemes being progressed across Rochdale borough, despite the catastrophic effect the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on the economy.
Although 2020 was a torrid year for high streets up and down the country, the new Rochdale Riverside complex opened in March 2020, with the scheme, which boasts shops, restaurants, a cinema and a mini golf complex, now almost fully let.
Construction of the next phase of the Riverside scheme, Upperbanks, which will bring a brand new Hampton by Hilton Hotel into Rochdale town centre, alongside new homes, has already begun.
Councillor John, Blundell, Cabinet Member for Economy and Communications at Rochdale Borough Council and RDA Board member, said: "I'm so proud that the council and RDA have been nationally recognised for their efforts to continue to deliver our incredible regeneration programme, despite a pandemic which took the economy to ground zero and could have easily derailed our plans.
"Not only have the council and RDA refused to let COVID-19 slow us down, if anything, they've stepped up and brought even more opportunities in over this past year, despite these obvious challenges. As important as it is to recover our economy post COVID-19, our ambition is much bigger than that. The growth plan we launched last year sets out plans to create thousands more jobs, homes and employment opportunities, which will future proof our economy and create opportunities which will be felt for decades to come.
"The groundwork we've laid over many years of delivering regeneration and employment opportunities is what's stood us in such good stead and will make all the difference for our borough as COVID-19 starts to recede and the economy comes to life again."
Other major achievements for the council and RDA over the year include working with the National Physical Laboratory and others to bring in almost £40 million of funding to develop an Advanced Manufacturing and Productivity Institute (AMPI) at Kingsway. The project will see different organisations work with employers and universities from across the north of England to develop next generation technology, machinery, and manufacturing capabilities which will create a hundreds of highly skilled new jobs in the heart of Rochdale borough.
The teams also played a major role in the COVID-19 response, alongside the finance department, navigating multiple different grant schemes to pay millions of pounds of funds to local businesses to help keep them afloat.
The employment links team also helped 775 local people gain qualifications and supported 662 people into work.
The shortlisted organisations will now complete presentations and interviews to a judging panel made up of senior and influential figures within local government.
LGC editor, Nick Golding said: "The past year of COVID-19 response has stretched councils and their staff to the limit, and yet still local government has innovated and provided the leadership places have so desperately needed during the pandemic.
"The LGC Awards are about recognising the most exceptional local government talent – and in this year, of all years, we can really say that those shortlisted have put in a truly heroic performance."
The winners of the LGC Awards will be announced at a ceremony in London on Thursday, 4 November 2021.