The latest performance report from the Kent and Medway Growth Hub shows that New Year’s resolutions to start a business, or grow an existing one, have resulted in an increase in enquiries to the business support service.
The year got off to a great start, with January recording 193 enquiries from people considering setting up a business, a further 84 who had already started a business and 98 already established and looking to expand – all up on the previous three months.
The Growth Hub project offers a single access point for local businesses, either online, via web chat, telephone, or face-to-face with an adviser. It provides a diagnostic and signposting service to kick-start the first, or next, phase of a company’s growth.
The Kent & Medway Growth Hub is one of a network funded via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) across Kent, Essex, East Sussex, Medway Southend and Thurrock.
Delivered locally by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and contracted through Kent County Council, the Growth Hub is designed to raise countywide awareness of local and national business support on offer.
In terms of where the enquiries were coming from, Medway again had the most pre-starts and the most start-up businesses, alongside Ashford, as well as the most established businesses, which is to be expected as it had the most overall enquiries by some margin in January.
Thanet had the second most pre-start enquiries followed by Maidstone. Canterbury had the second most start-up enquiries, followed jointly in third by Shepway, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells. Ashford had the second most established businesses enquiring to the hub, followed by Thanet and Maidstone jointly in third and then Swale.
Geoff Miles, Kent Vice Chair of SELEP, said: “Given the national uncertainty over the economic ramifications of Brexit it is very good to see there’s a strong ambition across Kent and Medway to start-up a business and grow existing ones.
“The Growth Hub is an important element of our work to strengthen the area’s economy by supporting the growth of small businesses.”
Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “The greatest number of enquiries for information relate to funding, with strong demand for legal, marketing and HR advice.
“We’ve also seen growing demand for advice on premises, rising from three in December to 11 in January, which is probably caused by the loss of commercial office space to residential in many towns across Kent and Medway.”
In addition to the direct enquiries received by the Growth Hub team, more than 1,600 unique visitors accessed the service’s website during January, up by 300 on December.
The Growth Hub can be accessed via www.kentandmedwaygrowthhub.org.uk or the dedicated helpline on 0300 456 3565.
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