Small firms finally have access to fully serviced offices in the centre of Sittingbourne with the official opening of the Sears Business Centre.
Operated by Neville Sears of London-based Sears Communications, and established with the support of Locate in Kent, the county’s investment promotion agency, 1,500ft2 of space making up phase one of the development in Station Street was opened by the Mayor of Swale Cllr Sue Gent, on July 18, at a reception attended by local MP Gordon Henderson and representatives from local businesses and organisations.
A further 1,500ft2 across a second floor will be made available to meet demand as it arises.
“This is the only fully serviced office space in Sittingbourne town centre and it offers businesses a number of ways in,” said Neville Sears.
“For as little as £50 a month, business people can rent a space to come in, hook up their laptop to the internet, have a tea or coffee or even just enjoy some social interaction if they usually work from home. Over and above that, the space is very flexible and we have configurations to suit most people’s budgets.”
The offices also have a connection to Sears Communications’ data centre in London, which can in turn connect into the company’s international networks.
“This connectivity means we can accommodate businesses operating internationally, or foreign companies who may be looking to test the water in Kent before committing to setting up their own office here,” said Neville.
Meeting rooms are also available, and are already being used by Invicta Chamber of Commerce.
With a local apprentice taken on as receptionist, Neville has worked to ensure the area’s economy has benefited from the new centre.
“During the refurbishment of the building we used contractors and suppliers from Sittingbourne, or as close to the town as possible,” he said.
Helping to identify those local suppliers was just one of the ways in which Locate in Kent supported Neville.
“They were one of my first ports of call when I was looking for a suitable building to take on in the county,” he said.
“They provided a feel good factor for me. When I found myself doubting whether there was a need for the offices, whether they would work here, they came up with research to reassure me that there would be demand and that helped me make my decision.
“Support comes in many forms, and having people you trust and can call on for a range of advice is crucial, and that’s the relationship I built with Locate in Kent.”
Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said support for small businesses was vital for future job generation in the county.
“Sears Business Centre will provide a solid base from which small businesses can grow and, with that growth, create jobs for local people,” he said.
“There are many ways we can help attract and retain jobs for Kent, and providing advice and support for Neville Sears will bring long term benefits for that part of north Kent.”
Mark Dance, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, also welcomed the opening of the new centre.
“Any practical support that helps small businesses thrive and grow is important to the county’s economy,” he said. “Sears Business Centre is a welcome boost for commerce in Sittingbourne and the surrounding area and a statement of confidence in Swale.”
For more information on Sears Business Centre, visit www.searsbusinesscentre.co.uk