With new official statistics from the ONS showing another 89,000 businesses were formed in the UK during the past year, it’s clear that Britain is enjoying an enterprise revival. Despite the daily challenges of sustaining cash flow, keeping up with regulation and ensuring adequate protection of assets small businesses are increasingly leading the charge in the economic development stakes.
The great news for Hastings is that this spirit of resurgence is not only a national phenomenon but a local one too. Recently revealed as among the top five areas within the South East of England for consistent growth in company formations since 2011, Hastings is ready and open for business. Here we take a closer look at just what is on offer in this vibrant commercial town.
Access to innovation
Innovation is often hailed as the life blood of business, particularly for those in the early stages of development. One of the many benefits of basing your company in Hastings is having easy access to a structure of innovation support. The facilities and services offered by Hastings Innovation Centre and the Creative Media Centre provide a plug in and play option for businesses which want to get off the ground and grow.
Creating a professional first impression is so important in a busy marketplace and that is exactly what can be delivered by the infrastructure services associated with the centre. Added to that are the many networking and clustering opportunities presented by being sited with other ambitious start ups as well as established business players.
The recent announcement that Hastings has been awarded assisted area status under one of the government’s flagship initiatives can only add to the innovation friendly economic environment. With special interventions in the form of factory developments and job creation programmes, further opportunities for support with research and development activities will no doubt emerge as the initiative moves forward.
Access to skills
Activating business growth strategies can be dependent on having a talented workforce to support expansion. Employers in the Hastings area have the opportunity to build that workforce and develop their employees as part of the local ‘Own Grown’ initiative. Success over the last two years in particular has seen this scheme attract widespread acclaim including as winner of the Community Project of the Year 2014 at the 1066 Community Awards.
Representing a real partnership between private, public and voluntary bodies as well as schools, colleges and training organisations, Own Grown offers the chance for employers and young people to meet and engage in a variety of ways. One option is to offer an Apprenticeship Scheme.
This involves employing an individual aged 16 or over and developing their skills to support your business- all with funding support from government. A local engineering company, Marshall-Tufflex, has found the scheme so beneficial in feeding its engineering skills pipeline that it is now considering extending apprenticeships into other areas of the business. Sussex Coast College, a key partner in the initiative, also offers pre-employment training and bespoke, flexible provision for existing staff as part of its enterprise, employment and skills agenda.
Access to transport links
Another plus point in Hastings’ favour is its connectability to other commercial hubs. Positioned on the Kent/Sussex border the town has already got well developed road links to cities such as London and Brighton.
It is also an excellent base for those who need access to seaports such as Dover and to Eurostar services. Airline access is also good with Lydd and Marston airports delivering on European and freight services and Gatwick providing international links.
When it comes to train links, while these are already well developed, Hastings is now hoping to become home to a high speed rail link to London. The subject of a recent economic assessment report, this link could reduce the journey time to the nation’s capital to only 68 minutes. Expected to ‘supercharge’ the local economy bringing in £19 million of benefit and upwards of 400 jobs as part of the associated regeneration by 2028, the link could contribute as much as £354 million in overall benefit by 2044. Local councillors are understandably delighted by the recent findings and are urging government and Network Rail to press on with the link extension.
With all these attributes it is clear to see why Hastings is already hitting the high notes of business success, and can offer an attractive proposition to new and expanding organisations looking for the ideal base.
Article from Gemma Cairns