Southend Council has appointed local contractor A.W Hardy & Co. Ltd to carry out the work, which includes building an initial nine flexible incubation units of 46-115m2, at least 34 hot-desks desks and shared meeting and conference space.
Contractors aim to complete construction at the building in Victoria Avenue before the spring.
The £651,325 for the project is coming entirely from the grant that Southend Council successfully secured from central Government’s City Deal Fund last year.
Cllr Graham Longley, Executive Councillor for Enterprise Tourism and Economic Regeneration, said: “Southend has an encouragingly high business start-up rate. The new incubation 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 new commercial space 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 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 – both home-grown and from further afield - with the courage and vision to become part of our town’s unfolding renaissance.”
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 this August this year.
Space at the Incubation Hub 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 Incubation Hub, it will offer unrivalled access to business support services.
The Beecroft Gallery will remain open during the entirety of the construction work though some noise is to be expected.
Anyone interested in finding out more about space at the Incubation Hub should contact Southend Council’s Economic Development team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01702 215022.