£50,000 boost for rural ‘work hubs’

More than £50,000 has been handed out to fund two “work hubs” designed to stimulate business growth in rural Somerset.

The Somerset Work Hubs Scheme is led by Somerset County Council and funded through the Heart of the South West Rural Growth Network Pilot (HotSW RGN).

It aims to set up small-scale flexible business workspace – known as ‘work hubs’ – designed to provide an ‘office when needed’ in rural areas for Somerset’s many sole traders, small businesses and mobile workers.

Following a competitive appeal for proposals last year, almost £30,000 of RGN funding has been awarded to Mendip Hub in Wells to further develop its facilities, including the creation of additional hot-desk and office space.

A further £22,000 has been awarded to the Warehouse Trust to establish The Levels Work Hub at Great Bow Wharf in Langport offering hot-desking and business support services.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said: “This initiative is all about encouraging new businesses and helping existing ones grow.

“Mendip Hub has already proven a real success story in nurturing small enterprises and I’m sure this extra funding will provide a further boost to business in that area.

“It’s no secret that businesses on the Somerset Levels have faced a particularly challenging time lately with widespread disruption caused by flooding. I’m delighted we are able to help set up a work hub in this area which I’m sure will play its part as the local economy continues its recovery.”

Judith Ludovino, Managing Director of Mendip Hub Ltd, said: “There has been a clear demand from new and emerging businesses to base themselves at the Mendip Hub and this grant from the Somerset Work Hubs Scheme will help us meet that demand.”

Patricia Marks of Somerset Business Agency, who provide operational and administrative support at Great Bow Wharf, said: “Opening up the Levels Work Hub at Great Bow Wharf will add to our portfolio of activities within the building. We see this as an important new service for Langport and the surrounding communities.”

The Heart of the South West Rural Growth Network Pilot is designed to encourage economic growth and enterprise in rural areas. £2.9 million has been awarded to the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, working in conjunction with Devon and Somerset County Councils.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive for the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “These two work hubs will be of great benefit to local businesses.  Rural businesses are extremely important to our economy in the Heart of the South West and initiatives like this, which help small businesses develop and grow, are hugely welcome.”