“So what has Kent County Council ever done for businesses in Kent?” That was the question put to me by a businessman at a recent event. I took a deep breath and let him have it with both barrels – for about twenty five minutes. After which, he responded “Oh, quite a lot then!” And with that understatement he turned and walked away with his ears still ringing from my reply….
Well, he asked.
I will not bore you with all the detail but having reviewed my answer, I too was surprised by just how much KCC has worked with and for Kent businesses over the past few years. When you are so close to it all the time, you sometimes forget just how much has been achieved.
Let me give you just a taster of the projects I mentioned, both big and small:
> £35 million gained from the Government to deliver interest free loans to businesses via the Expansion East Kent (ExEK) Project, coupled with the Grow for It Campaign to encourage businesses to move to the area and grow.
> £20 million gained from the Government to deliver interest-free loans to businesses in the Thames Gateway via the TIGER project (and we are looking to apply for a fund for a third area, this time in West Kent).
> Working with High Growth Kent and other partners to encourage the rapid growth of prestige businesses and encourage Incubator programmes and Start-Ups throughout the breadth of the County.
> Kent Thameside and Ebbsfleet Quarry area has long been an area requiring investment. We have worked with partners to unlock that potential, including with the developers arising out of the exciting recent announcement that Paramount Studios are looking to invest and build in that area.
> We have held “Sector Conversations” to listen to the businesses involved in industries such as Low Carbon, Construction, Food Production, Health & Social Care, Creative, Manufacturing and Digital. By so doing we have been able to identify issues and blockages and provide a lobbying route to Government for change.
> Our partners at Locate in Kent continue to attract quality businesses to Kent and thus employment opportunities for Kent residents. Nearly 6,000 jobs since 2010 and the possibility of upwards of 9,000 more with KCC investing £450,000+ over the next three years in attracting Foreign Direct Investment/International Business.
Looking ahead, I see enormous potential for Kent businesses. We will soon have that elusive international air flight connection in and out of Manston. The Government has promised a result to the consultation on the Third Thames Crossing. We are undertaking a major tourism summit/conference later this month and are looking to highlight the potential for growth and investment in the Romney Marsh area at another event in March.
There are so many other areas we involve ourselves in and we are always proud to do so. For example, two of the marvellous initiatives supported by KCC and other partners are the KEIBA Awards – to identify and celebrate excellent Kent businesses – and the annual Kent 2020 Vision LIVE event next month.
Kent 2020 Vision Live 2013 is the largest business-to-business exhibition in the South East, providing a range of free seminars on current challenges and opportunities, expert advice on how to innovate and grow, inspirational thoughts and ideas on key business issues and a unique opportunity to mix with your peers, senior executives and government advisors. There are special zones focused on specific areas such as Apprenticeships, Low Carbon, Technology and Tourism and of course the opportunity for you to promote your own business.
So who should attend this free-to-attend event? If you are a business person and reading this blog, then the answer is YOU!
It is an event relevant to every sector, from Accountancy and Legal to Travel and Tourism. It is a key place to do business and forge new relationships, pick up new leads and make valuable connections for the future, especially if you decide to take a stand to showcase what your company can offer other Kent businesses.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity as we all strive to prove that KENT IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS.
Visitors can register online at www.kent2020.co.uk to benefit from free entry, priority parking, exclusive previews and a chance to win an iPad Mini.