The foundations for a new £11.4 million business park are barely dry – but already about 200 businesses have expressed an interest in taking up space in the development.
Potential tenants moving into the council’s flagship Innovation Park Medway (IPM) are expected to be whittled down to a shortlist of 20.
But they will have to undergo “a strict vetting process”, according to Cllr Simon Curry, who’s in charge of the Towns’ regeneration and climate change policy.
The experienced ecologist is insistent all contenders must be environmentally-friendly and embrace new green technology,
Cllr Curry, a portfolio holder in the new Labour administration, said: “It’s early days, as we have only been in power for a matter of weeks, but we are looking at companies specialising in food technology and drone technology.
“The key word is innovation. We are looking at big names as well as tapping into local expertise, like BAE Systems, the University of Kent and MidKent College. The feedback has been very good.
“They haven’t approached us yet, but if Netflix said they were interested we’d welcome them with open arms.”
There is no indication the streaming giant would consider a move and it has been previously linked to a studio project in Ashford.
New council chief executive Richard Hicks is heading a nationwide marketing campaign at top trade fairs.
The park, next to Rochester Airport, will eventually house 30 plots for businesses, 28 of which will be on the southern site nearest Maidstone Road and two the other side of the runway in Laker Road.
It is hoped IPM will generate 3,000 jobs in the high-quality technology, engineering and manufacturing sector with the aim being for the first occupiers to be in by October next year.
Millions have been pumped into the scheme from SELEP (South East Local Enterprise Partnership).
The flagship project was behind schedule and, with seemingly little interest in firms relocating, doubt was thrown on its future and it was branded a “white elephant”.
The previous Conservative council leader, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said the scheme had been hit by major problems linked to the pandemic and archaeological works.
Cllr Curry said the incoming Labour group had changed its marketing strategy and work was now “back on track”.
He added that the chosen tenants will benefit from no start-up costs and affordable business rates compared to London, close links to Europe, proximity to a motorway network and free parking.
Fittingly, the main six-storey building will have solar panels and will have net-zero carbon status.