By Daniel Hunter

Southend-on-Sea has secured £1.8m of Regional Growth Fund funding to deliver a “one stop shop” growth hub as well as business support initiatives including grants, innovation expertise and support for new and growing businesses.

The grant follows Southend-on-Sea being named one of 20 Wave 2 City Deal cities in 2013 and will support and enable progression of high growth businesses as well as sustainable start-ups in Southend.

The move is the next phase in Southend establishing itself as a key borough for business start-ups. Celebrating exceptional SME growth rates, it has increased nearly 10% year on year since 2010. Located 40 miles east of central London, it witnessed 825 ‘business births’ in 2011 alone.

Home to the ‘UK’s best airport’ in 2013, Southend-on-Sea is on the doorstep of London Gateway’s new deep sea container port. With a growing transport network across air, land, rail and now sea, businesses can access global markets on their doorstep. With over 6,595 VAT registered enterprises, the town’s small businesses expect to grow revenue over the next five years — with international trade opportunities being a key factor.

Southend-on-Sea’s business density in 2011 achieved a 10%** increase on the Great Britain average, with over 614 local enterprises for every 10,000 residents aged between 16 and 64. A young and vibrant business hub, 20% of enterprises in the area are younger than two years old (2009), and as a result the atmosphere is innovative and ground-breaking, inspiring new talent to set up businesses. However early retirees are also founding ‘lifestyle businesses’ recognising the dynamism and opportunity of the Southend — in total generating more than £2.5billion of economic output (2011).

Due to the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ evident across the Essex area, Southend-on-Sea provides a culture of successful business experimentation and with that, an area companies can grow in. Alongside the increasing investment seen by start-ups, established entrepreneurs are also noting this borough as an area of growth, opening new ventures alongside existing firms.

These increasing levels of enterprise have provided new services, developed local supply chains and community relationships. This ‘business injection’ has helped label Southend-on-Sea as an enterprising location with 11,700 residents in self-employment, representing nearly 15% of residents aged 16-64.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor John Lamb says: “It is positive to see many businesses choosing Southend-on-Sea as their primary location. We aim to continue to elevate the area’s commercial performance, putting businesses at the centre of all we do, providing perfect location for both new and established companies, helping the UK’s economy to grow”.

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