THE duo behind Spark:York and the investment loan provider that supported them have spoken of their pride following the opening weekend as funds totalling £150,000 look set to create 100 jobs in the city.

The project, which has seen a retail and food hub created from shipping containers on vacant land in Piccadilly, was supported by capital from the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF).

The three £50,000 loans, one of which has already been paid back, were used for building works and pulling the site together which is now home to 23 independent businesses.

The project is the brainchild of York entrepreneurs Tom McKenzie, 25, and Sam Leach, 24, who had a vision to create affordable retail space in the city after being inspired by box parks and street food markets while travelling in Europe just 18 months ago.

Mr McKenzie, co-founder and director at Spark:York, said: “We currently have two part-time employees working with Sam and I but after the first month of being open we’re planning to expand our team significantly.

“Alongside the other businesses and retailers here at Spark:York, we’re hoping to bring 100 new jobs to the area.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you for all the support we’ve received from everyone involved in making Spark:York happen.

“Our investment manager from BEF, Andy Clough, has been brilliant. He took a very personable approach throughout the whole project and was always willing to pop down to offer his advice. Andy was so willing to get stuck in to the project, he was like another member of the team for us!”

The Business Enterprise Fund has an office in Blake Street in York and provides funding for businesses across Yorkshire and the North East.

Andy Clough, investment manager at BEF, said: “What a fantastic and inspirational duo.

“Spark:York is dedicated to bringing positive change to the area and it’s so encouraging to see – if all companies took a similar approach to business, think of the impact it could make.”

Mr McKenzie added: “We’re hoping this is just the first of many for us and we’d love to develop similar projects in different cities all over the UK.”