Fresh from his presentation to the Hastings Area Chamber, the Let’s Do Business Group (LDBG) were delighted to show Chris Brodie, Chair of South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP), around some of the area’s leading businesses.
Having always lived in the South East, Chris clearly understood the varied challenges across the LEP area, but wanted to learn more about the impact of job creation in seaside towns, literally ‘at the end of the line’, compared to more centrally based towns with vastly superior road and rail connections.
Through a range of businesses that have received help from LDBG to develop and grow, Chris was taken on a tour of the town.
Starting off at BD Foods Ltd, he heard how their successful growth has brought with it many challenges, from sourcing and recruiting sufficient quality staff, to physical capacity constraints of their current premises.
By working with the Locate East Sussex service they have attracted a six figure grant and loan support package from East Sussex County Council (ESCC), that has enabled them and Hastings Borough Council (HBC) make further substantial investment for a new build that should come on-stream later this year securing them further growth and job creation opportunities.
Moving away from manufacturing Chris then met UTP Ltd, a call centre based in St Leonards that, supply credit card processing solutions to small businesses within the UK.
Having initially set up in Reading, they had a requirement to create a dedicated telemarketing operation to aid expansion. Due to difficulties employing suitable staff locally they looked to secure a new site elsewhere.
Following extensive discussions with Locate East Sussex, ESCC agreed a mixture of grant and loan funding to be utilised towards capital expenditure for the new office. HBC were also able to provide additional support to assist their expansion into St. Leonards.
Having already employed over 20 staff since they opened in May 2016, their ongoing recruitment process will see this rise to 42.
Over lunch Graham Marley, CEO of LDBG provided a more detailed overview of the group whose 26 strong team has grown to provide a range of services from business advice and coaching; to training and apprenticeships; to inward investment and loan finance.
To round off the trip Chris was taken to two recipients of loan funding from Let’s Do Business Finance; firstly Rockoptika Ltd, who specialise in high end designer optical frames and then onto to the world’s largest subterranean skate park, The Source Park.
Here he saw first-hand the monumental achievement of bringing the disused baths back into full and vibrant economic use plus the job creation of this multifaceted company.
Before heading back to London, Chris said: “It was a fascinating day and I was extremely impressed with the work and achievements made with local business. It just goes to show what can be achieved through strong partnership work and a drive to make things happen, whatever the odds”.