Lincoln’s year in business 2011

— As 2011 draws to a close, we take a look back and give you a concise breakdown of the biggest business developments of the year for Lincoln

Lincoln is the UK’s number one hotspot for business growth, according to a study that found the number of companies trading in Lincoln totals 8,000. In addition, a new business hub at Bishop Grosseteste offers help to young companies, and the new Engineering Hub at the University of Lincoln also opened.

Tourism and Retail

Back in August, the City of Lincoln Council increased the amount of funds it puts into tourism and culture by almost £450,000 in an effort to boost visitor numbers and to bring more money into the local economy. Controversially however, the council decided to proceed with the sale of The Lawn in the Bailgate area, although this continues to be met with fierce opposition because of its merit as a tourist location and its importance to Lincoln’s heritage.

The cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was blamed for visitor numbers at Lincoln Cathedral taking a nose dive in 2010, although it made a triumphant comeback this year, seeing over 335,000 people visiting the city over the weekend.

Reaping the benefits of the busiest ever Christmas Market period were shops and hotels — good examples being the Castle Hotel in Westgate and the Holiday Inn on Brayford Pool, both of which also saw £1 million refurbs this year. Of course, the erection of a DoubleTree by Hilton on the Brayford is also drawing to a close, with rooms ready to book from January 2012.

There have also been changes on Lincoln’s High Street. Renovations were made to Marks & Spencer and Wilkinson, the town centre got another Tesco Express convenience store in May, and Apple franchise store, Stormfront, just opened in the Waterside Shopping Centre.  Lincoln coffee shop Stokes Coffee has seen success expanding its trade to retail outlets and taking over the café at The Collection.

Nightlife and Dining

Lincoln’s nightlife has developed significantly this year, as three new nightclubs opened their doors. Wahoo opened in January in the building that was formerly Chicago Rock Café, Tokyo opened in August after a £1.5 million renovation of the Constitutional Club on Silver Street, and more recently, The Annexe reopened as Home after a £3 million revamp and re-brand. The future of long-running nightclub Ritzy is up in the air, however, since the owners went into administration after recording massive financial losses.

Other pubs and bars have also received makeovers. The Horse and Groom on Carholme Road reopened in November after having been closed for almost two years, with a focus on good food and traditional ales, much of which is locally sourced. Bar 67, a wine bar at The Lincoln Hotel, reopened after the previous venue had been shut for 25 years. The Glasshouse in St. Mark’s Square closed earlier in the year to make way for a new Toby’s Carvery, a national restaurant chain.

With the birth and regeneration of so many businesses within the city of Lincoln this year, it will be interesting to see how the city economy will improve in 2012.