The news that the UK is finally out of its double-dip recession will be welcomed by everyone.
Since Spring 2008, we have been mired in economic downturn and it is heartening to finally be clear.
One town that will benefit from the improvement in fortunes is Shrewsbury, after High Street giant Debenhams confirmed plans to invest substantial sums on a new flagship store.
The outlet will be built as part of a massive expansion plan that will create 1,700 new jobs around the UK. In Shrewsbury, many local residents can look forward to working for one of Britain’s blue chip companies when it opens for trade.
Shrewsbury is a town on the up. It is looking forward to the construction of a shiny £150 million New Riverside shopping complex that will make it increasingly competitive. And the presence of Debenhams will also bring much-needed competition to the town: for too long a small number of clothing retailers have had things all their own way.
When Debenhams opens, Shrewsbury will join towns like Telford, Birmingham and Chester in being home to one of the department store’s outlets.
Earlier this year, Shrewsbury invested heavily with a London advertising agency in an ambitious programme to rebrand itself. Tourism bosses predicted increased inward investment and higher visitor numbers – and it seems some of those forecasts are coming true.
News of Shrewsbury’s good fortune dovetails neatly with the Government’s announcement that the economy is finally starting to improve.
It is heartening news. The economy has been through a torrid time but the Government has taken steps that will hopefully ensure its long-term recover.
Closer to home, the news is entirely. In addition to Debenhams’ symbolic investment in Shrewsbury, a new sawmill is also opening in North Shropshire with the creation of more than 30 jobs.
In Shropshire, it seems, we are finally turning the corner. This is the moment that businesses, workers, economic development officials and the general public have anticipated for many years.
Hopefully, Shrewsbury’s good fortune will prove to be symptomatic of a more widespread upturn for our county’s economy.