Businesses in Somerset now have even more help to grow with the help of the County Council’s network of Enterprises Centres.
The Highbridge Enterprise Centre, which is already home to 15 businesses and 35 jobs, has had a £470,000 expansion. Three more light industrial units have been opened, providing an extra 234 square metres of suitable aimed at making life easier for new and growing businesses.
Jointly funded by Somerset County Council and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Unlocking Growth Fund, the extra space is likely to be home to three new businesses creating more valuable jobs.
Highbridge is one of five Enterprise Centres established around the county by the County Council to help small and medium-sized businesses start up and grow, particularly in rural areas where access to suitable and affordable space is hard to find.
They provide light industrial and office space, superfast broadband, flexible tenancy terms that are well-suited to new and growing business, and access to business support.
The network which also includes centres in Frome, Dulverton, Wheddon Cross and Minehead now provides 52,000 square feet of commercial office space and units – of which around 93 per cent is taken – supporting 54 businesses.
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet member for Economy and Inward Investment, said: “These centres are a real, tangible benefit for Somerset businesses and it’s wonderful to see the success of the Highbridge centre and this exciting expansion.
“Growth and prosperity are vital to the long-term future of the county and small and businesses are its economic life-blood. Even at these times of big pressures on our budgets, we are able to use our capital funds – which we cannot spend on running costs – to support the local economy.”
There are 16 businesses already based at Highbridge Enterprise Centre, including Bearings South West Limited which will also occupy one of the new units as the business grows.
Its owner Dan Green, said: “The facilities and support at the Enterprise Centre are excellent. The advice and assistance I have received from the centre staff and the business advisor have been invaluable in helping me make my business a success.
“I have made some good business connections from being located in the Enterprise Centre, and this has been one of the factors in the rapid growth of the company. The secure premises, fast internet access, business support and location make Highbridge ideal for my business – I’d recommend it to anyone starting up.”
Ges Green, Somerset Enterprise Centres Manager, said: “These units are an exciting boost for Highbridge, providing an excellent space for new and growing businesses.
“We are proud to support the small and medium sized businesses across the county and provide suitable and affordable space within a great business community.”
The network is operated on behalf of the Somerset County Council by TDA.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: “I’m delighted to see our Growth Deal funding go towards the expansion of this excellent facility at Highbridge. Creating the right conditions for growth is an important part of the LEP’s role; and these two new units will add value to the already successful enterprise centre.
“It’s part of a set of Growth Deal projects that form our £5m Unlocking Growth Fund, which invests in a range of similar enterprise centres at strategic locations across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay to provide new and growing companies with workspace. Other projects on site or operational are at Devonport, South Molton, and Yeovil.”
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “Government’s Growth Deal funding of new light industrial space for the Highbridge Centre is a great example of how we’re working at a grass-roots level to help businesses start up and flourish.
“With the provision of state-of-the-art office space, superfast broadband and access to expert business support, the Highbridge Centre brings local companies together in a thriving hub. It’s an exemplary model for business growth in regional areas and I’m proud that Government has worked hand-in-hand with Somerset County Council to facilitate the centre’s expansion.”