More than three-quarters of the jobs attracted to Kent and Medway by Locate in Kent in the past year resulted from investment by foreign companies, latest figures show.
Set a target of 3,310 jobs to be created or retained in Kent and Medway during 2014-15, the county’s investment promotion agency achieved 3,325 from 46 successful projects.
Of those, 1,934 were new, 619 were jobs indirectly created by the companies’ investment in the area, and 772 were safeguarded roles. It is the highest number of direct jobs created for more than five years.
In total, foreign investment contributed 2,297 jobs (72% of all jobs) to the Kent and Medway economies, compared to 820 (30%) in 2013-14. Some 1,480 of the new jobs (77% of all new jobs) came via Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), up from 16% in 2013-14. Another 917 indirect and safeguarded jobs were from overseas companies.
Seven successes came from the USA, three from Germany, two from France and there was one each from India, Spain, Japan and Ireland.
“The FDI successes of the past year highlight the attractiveness of Kent as a business location,” said Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent.
“The key to those successes lies in the retail distribution sector, where significant investments by Asda, Lidl and Aldi brought a combined total of 1,518 jobs.
“The sector is changing the way it works, moving towards smaller warehouses rather than large regional distribution centres. Kent, with its connectivity to the UK motorway network and Europe via the M2 and M20, is proving highly desirable for those sort of operations.”
Paul added that each investment was large in terms of jobs and each went to a different part of Kent.
“It highlights that foreign investment is important as each success tends to result in more jobs than UK-based companies investing in Kent – an average of 79 jobs per success for overseas companies compared to 35 for UK companies this year,” he said.
Alongside retail distribution, the high value life sciences sector also proved important, with five successes, three of which were from overseas, including US healthcare technology company Quvium, which became the 100th tenant to sign up at Discovery Park, Sandwich.
Warwick Morris, Chairman of Locate in Kent, said: “Life sciences is a crucial sector for us and we have benefitted greatly from having modern, flexible premises such as Discovery Park in Sandwich and Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne.
“They have played a crucial role in establishing a growing cluster of companies in the county, which in turn can prove a decisive influence when others are considering investment.
“Especially welcome has been the amount of new investment in East Kent, partly through the attraction of Discovery Park, and partly thanks to financial incentives available through the Regional Growth Fund. These factors contributed to the attraction of 20 investments in 2014-15.”
Locate in Kent came into 2015-16 with 292 active projects in the pipeline, with the prospect of 13,766 associated jobs. Of those, more than 80 successes are expected to come to fruition by the end of the year, producing more than 3,000 jobs.
Most interest is in the life sciences sector, followed by manufacturing. Forty-four US companies and 17 from France are considering investing in Kent.
Mark Dance, Kent County Council Cabinet member for Economic Development, said Locate in Kent’s figures were encouraging and they were beginning to reap the rewards of a proactive approach to attracting foreign investment.
“In 2013 KCC supported Locate in Kent as it appointed lead generating agencies in key overseas markets, such as the USA,” said Mark. “The wisdom of that decision is now clear to see as more and more potential projects enter the pipeline.
“I know the team at Locate in Kent is working hard to convert these leads into jobs for the county and, as these latest figures show, that hard work is paying off.”
To find out how Locate in Kent can help you invest, grow or set up in Kent, visit www.locateinkent.com.