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Sports Direct and Chimichanga in Eastleigh jobs boost
More than 170 new jobs are to be created across Hampshire, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Eastleigh will benefit with 140 jobs with a further 30 being created in Titchfield by a new toy store.
A major new creative arts hub is close to completion in Eastleigh town centre, while a new restaurant and sports shopping mecca will open in the nearby Swan Centre next month.
Up to £150,000 is being spent on converting the disused postal sorting office in Wells Street into a space for artists, designers, craftspeople and digital media specialists.
The converted 1920s building consisting of new studios, workshops and exhibition areas will provide work for around 64 people once it opens in November.
Meanwhile, a £550,000 Chimichanga Mexican restaurant is to open in the Swan Centre shopping mall next month providing up to 20 new jobs.
The announcement comes just months after the sudden closure of The Break Bar, Loft and Coffee Republic venue, which had been operating in the same two-storey premises since 2010.
In a further jobs-boost up to 60 new roles will be created in November when budget sportswear firm Sports Direct opens a 12,000 sq ft outlet in the retail complex.
Centre manager Dee Buffone said: “This is very good news for our shoppers and for the people of Eastleigh.
“We are really pleased to have got Sports Direct for the Swan Centre and we also thought that a new Tex Mex offering in the leisure section would add to the mix we already have.”
The surge in employment opportunities will come as a welcome boost just days after Sainsbury’s announced it was scrapping plans for a huge new store in the town.
Bosses at the retail giant originally vowed to create 230 jobs and revitalise part of the town by bulldozing and rebuilding their 30-year-old Upper Market Street supermarket.
But with just days to go before councillors were due to make a decision on the plans Sainsbury’s pulled the plug, conceding the idea was “economically unviable”.
Meanwhile civic chiefs hope to harness the potential from the 7,000 creative graduates leaving universities in the south each year by driving forward the arts transformation at the sorting office behind the town centre post office.
Eastleigh Borough Council believes the scheme will breathe new life into creative industries in the area and add to the existing offerings at The Point and Berry theatres.
It has been funded by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire and will be managed by local arts charity a:space.
The council’s head of culture Dr Cheryl Butler said: “There is nothing like this level of support elsewhere and it has attracted artists to relocate from London, Peterborough, even Brighton, and Bristol.
“We have created a buzz in the area.”
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