Southend Council’s Economic Development Team has now taken the keys for the new business space, which includes an initial nine flexible incubation units of 46-115m2, at least 34 hot-desks and shared meeting and conference space. The centre will be known as The Hive: Southend Victoria.
Contractors started work in mid-November and completed the refurbishment last month. In this period, the Council has selected the organisation that will operate the centre, Enterprise4 Good (Community) Ltd.
The centre has already attracted interest from a range of start-ups and existing companies in Southend. Enterprise4Good will now take on the discussions with these existing leads generated by the Council as well as finding other tenants and managing the facility.
The £651,325 for the conversion of this unused space into a vibrant business hub was secured by Southend Council via the City Deal negotiation with central Government last year.
Cllr Graham Longley, Executive Councillor for Enterprise Tourism and Economic Regeneration, said: “This new enterprise hub will provide flexible space at reasonable rates for these fledgling businesses, and will nurture them with the right environment and support to give them every chance of becoming the major employers of tomorrow.
“Furthermore, as they grow, these businesses may wish to move into the proposed new commercial space that we have planned at the Airport Business Park as part of our Joint Area Action Plan with Rochford District Council.
“Southend has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, enviable connections to our capital and a growing number of European destinations via our burgeoning international airport, and a high quality of life for its residents.
“It’s a great place to work, live and play and we will not be shy on selling this unique proposition to attract entrepreneurs.
“We are delighted to have appointed Enterprise4Good to manage the centre . They share our vision for a hub which is fully integrated into the community and seeks to support entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes and sectors.”
Mark Kass, Chair and CEO of Enterprise4Good said they were delighted to have been appointed to run the facility. He said: “We look forward to working in partnership with the Council, the wider business support network and of course the incredibly entrepreneurial residents and business community of Southend to make this THE place to start-up and grow small businesses.
“As Enterprise4Good is a not-for-profit, social enterprise and a start-up in its own right, we'll be channeling all our efforts and ultimately our profits back into the business to ensure The Hive grows alongside its clients.
“With its brilliant links to Central London, the rest of the South East and of course with London Southend Airport on our doorstep, I am confident we can attract new businesses to The Hive not only from the rest of the UK but from Europe, too.
“As we are co-located in the newly regenerated Old Central Library with the Beecroft Gallery, we're sure to attract occupiers from the creative industries.
“We are investing in a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that should see us attract some world class technology entrepreneurs and by working closely with the schools, colleges and universities, are keen to ensure that local people help us deliver our vision to extend London's TechCity concept to Southend.
“We will be creating a community of businesses in The Hive that we will encourage to work together to ensure businesses survive and grow. It will be its own ecosystem where small business helps big business and vice versa....so we proudly call this the "Enterprise4Good SMEcosystem.”
This is the second phase of work to redevelop the former library. The first phase involved converting the basement, ground and first floors into gallery spaces to house the Beecroft Art Collection. Building work was completed in June last year, with the gallery opening to the public in August last year.
Space at The Hive: Southend Victoria will be very flexible, offering opportunities for hot-desking up to renting more formal office space. As the Council’s “Business Southend” team will also be relocating to The Hive, it will offer unrivalled access to business support services.
The Beecroft Gallery remained open during the entirety of the construction work.
Anyone interested in finding out more about space at the Incubation Hub should contact Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Economic Development team firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01702 215022.