THE mastermind behind the success of The Heath has been named Cheshire Business Person of the Year for 2006.
The latest chapter in The Heath Business and Technical Park's remarkable success story unfolded at the 2006 Trinity Mirror sponsored Cheshire Business Awards staged in Chester on Friday.
Presenting Dr Cook with the prestigious award Cheshire County Council chairman Neville Price said: 'The judges were looking for an individual who has made a significant contribution to life in Cheshire.
'Tonight's winner is a man who has made a difference - helping to create hundreds of jobs and scores of opportunities for businesses.'
Cllr Price told more than 300 guests at the black tie awards ceremony that The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn had 'risen out of the ashes' after ICI had closed its chemicals operation. A group of former ICI managers, under the leadership of Dr Cook, had formed a company - SOG Ltd - and transformed the site into a thriving business park.
TV presenter Lucy Meacock, awards ceremony host and presenter of news programme Granada Reports, said SOG's story was 'an inspiration to everybody'.
Dr Cook, who was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, said: 'What you have heard of our achievements tonight could not be achieved by me alone. I'm part of a fantastic team called SOG Ltd.
'All this has been achieved without a pound of public money, which is a bit unusual for regeneration - so much so that the Government is asking us how The Heath can be replicated elsewhere in the country.'
Approval of expansion would create 1,300 jobs > > >
Approval of expansion would create 1,300 jobs
PLANNING chiefs are expected to give the green light to the £20m expansion of a pioneering business and technology park which will bring more than 1,300 new jobs to the borough.
The Heath Business and Technical Park has lodged a planning application with Halton Borough Council to increase the size of the facility by a third.
Members of the development control committee are due to give their approval on Monday.
A spokesman said: 'The Heath Business and Technical Park is a significant regional facility.'
SOG Ltd, the owner and operator of the former ICI site, plans to add another 200,000sq ft of office and laboratory facilities.
SOG bosses say more than 1,300 new jobs will be created.
SOG Ltd took over the old ICI headquarters site in 2000. Since then 170 British and international companies have been attracted to the 50-acre business park and the site now employs over 1,700 people, remarkably more than in ICI's heyday.
SOG has purchased a further 11 acres of land from ICI to complement the expansion plans.
Peter Cook, managing director of SOG Ltd, said: 'The growth of The Heath has been phenomenal, particularly when you consider we have had no Government investment. The fact is that The Heath is now employing more people than ICI did and, if our planning application is successful, by 2011 nearly 3,000 people will earn their livelihoods here.
'The ripple effect of the expansion plans at The Heath will bring benefits right across the local economy. Local hoteliers, taxi drivers, shopkeepers and others employed in the local service industries can expect a boost in trade thanks to the development proposals.'
Business visionaries rewarded > > >
Business visionaries rewarded
THE cream of the county's business community was honoured on Friday at the third annual Cheshire Business Awards.
Several hundred of the region's business people, celebrities, dignitaries and politicians gathered at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Chester to pay tribute to the businesses and individuals from across Cheshire who took the honours in our prestigious awards ceremony.
This year there was a big increase in the nominations we received for the nine categories: Business Start-Up, Small Business, Medium Business, Large Business, Employer of the Year, Community Award, Young Person of the Year, Women in Business and the Business Person of the Year.
Eric Langton, Editor in Chief, Trinity Mirror Cheshire, said: 'The judges were struck by the enterprise and determination of people to make their dream, their vision, reality. It was wonderful to see so many examples of good ideas being turned into profitable business; and of managers and staff adapting, changing, training, adding skills and showing flexibility.'
The awards were hosted by TV news presented Lucy Meacock and last year's Business Person of the Year, Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, gave a keynote speech.
Guest speaker was Nick Leeson, famed for being the 'Rogue Trader' who broke Barings Bank in 1995 in the biggest financial scandal of the century.
Entertainment during the evening was provided by singer/songwriter Jade Gallagher.
This year's Business Person of the Year title was awarded to Dr Peter Cook, managing director of SOG Ltd and the driving force behind the regeneration project at The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn for the past six years.
When ICI took the decision to close its offices and laboratories in Runcorn, Dr Cook was one of the company's four former managers who bought the site.
The Heath now provides a base for 170 different firms, employing more than 1,700 people. Planning permission is now being sought to add another 200,000 sq feet of office and laboratory facilities to the site which would create a further 1,300 jobs.
Winner of the Business Start-up Award was Bridgewater Furniture Systems of St Michaels Industrial Estate, Widnes.
Colin Millington started the firm in 2005 after problems with a business partnership and several months grieving the death of his first child.
The company produces bespoke furniture for schools, hospitals and industry and already has grown to employ five local people - some had been out of work for sometime.
Mr Millington told judges: 'All I have ever wanted is to have my own business in my home town and look after my family. When people talk about my company or me personally I want them to associate my name with quality and service.'
Executive sponsor for the awards was Business Link Chester & Warrington who also sponsored the Women in Business category. Other category sponsors were the University of Chester, Dee Recruitment, ScottishPower, Chester & Ellesmere Port Enterprise Agency, Marks & Spencer Money, and Cheshire County Council.
And the winners are... > > >
And the winners are...
Business Start Up Award (Chester and Ellesmere Port Enterprise Agency): Bridgewater Furniture Systems, St Michaels Industrial Estate, Widnes.
Runners-up: Pronto Taxis (Chester Business Park) Gymophobics (Crewe)
Small Business Award (University of Chester): Marine Systems Technology, Woodford Park Industrial Estate, Winsford.
Runners-up: Hawk Precision Engineering, Crewe Hall Enterprise Park, Crewe; CPD Solutions, Hooton Road, Hooton
Medium Business Award (Trinity Mirror Cheshire): Citation plc of Tatton Street, Knutsford.
Runners-up: Ego Restaurants, Firemans Square, Chester; Vision Support Trading, Park West, Sealand Road, Chester.
Large Business Award (Trinity Mirror Cheshire): Chess plc, Heyes Lane, Alderley Edge. Runners-up: Moneysupermaket.com Financial Group, St David's Park, Ewloe Chester Zoo, Upton by Chester
Employer of the Year (Dee Recruitment): Marks and Spencer Money, Chester Business Park. Runners-up: Chess plc, Aldeley Edge Academee, Bollin Walk, Wilmslow.
Community Award (Marks and Spencer Money): Chester Zoo, Upton by Chester.
Runners-up: Enable Solutions plc, Briarswood Close Bebington; NMC Design, Woodford Lane West, Winsford.
Young Business Person of the Year (Scottish Power Business Sales): Nick Wood and Andy Wood, Fruit Boost Ltd, Chester Enterprise Centre.
Runners up: Diana Bendall, Deva Vets, Aldford, Chester; Mike Pickstock of Colin Stewart Minchem, Winsford.
Award for Women in Business (Business Link): Elizabeth Hassall of Hill Dickinson, Cuppin Street, Chester.
Runners-up: Diana Bendall of Deva Vets, Aldford, Chester; Phyl Lomas, Stables Cuisine, Hartford, Northwich.