The Growth Hub, a business support initiative operating across East Sussex, Kent, Medway, Essex, Southend and Thurrock, has worked with more than 4,400 firms to help create nearly 1,000 new jobs, figures show.
A report into the South East Business Hub project which supports companies across the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) area, estimates that for every £1 spent on the programme a further £13.20 has been generated in return, creating 994 jobs.
Thanks to the Growth Hub, businesses can access a range of support from three hours of assistance to more than 12 hours of high-intensity support, delivered by a team of business advisers. In addition to the 4,426 businesses who were given advice and support, a further 41,851 businesses visited the Growth Hub websites.
The most popular area of support was financial advice (63%), followed by growth and management (48%); and starting a new business (23%). Other help requested included skills and recruitment, legal advice, sales and marketing, IT, premises, and imports and exports.
As a result of the advice, 59 per cent of the firms that worked with the Growth Hub said that they had or would increase turnover, and 48 per cent of those who had received medium or high intensity support had already created jobs as a result.
Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, said: “The results speak for themselves and show there is strong demand for clear business support that is easy to access and consistently delivered locally across our area.
“The Growth Hub fits perfectly with our economic strategy of Smarter, Faster, Together and shows how we are directly helping smaller businesses to grow and improve their productivity.
“A key factor in the success of the Growth Hubs comes from working with our local partners who understand the needs of local firms and the barriers that might be holding them back.”
Christian Brodie added: “Following the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, this sort of business advice and support is even more important, especially in an area like ours where the majority of firms are micro-businesses.”
HM Government has recently announced an additional £108 million available to promote and support businesses to ensure they are ready for Brexit, including a national programme of business readiness and helping exporters to prepare for, and capitalise on, new opportunities. Read more here.
The Growth Hub project is funded by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the South East LEP.
The full annual evaluation report can be found here