Plans announced to expand successful Work Hubs for growing businesses

Devon County Council is announcing the next phase of expansion to a network of business work spaces, which is helping to boost the county’s productivity.

Around 20 per cent of Devon workers are working from home, some of them small businesses that started from spare rooms and kitchen tables, and many are looking to move into larger office accommodation.

Work hubs are the answer, providing flexible term office space, equipped with facilities that modern businesses need.  And Devon County Council wants there to be more of them. 

Those in Totnes, Tavistock and Barnstaple, and associate hubs in Exeter, East Budleigh and Torquay, are seeing steady throughput as start-up firms, coming to them with fewer than a handful of staff, are outgrowing work hub accommodation as they take on more employees and require larger work premises. 

They’re run by local business people, and can be a more attractive proposition for people looking for short term and inexpensive office space.

Devon County Council plans to expand the work hub network further with hubs in possibly three more towns.  Businesses and entrepreneurs can apply for grants of up to £20,000 per hub, to help the council develop the hubs.  Free support for businesses with the application is available.

Councillor Stuart Barker, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for economic growth, said: “As a former small business owner myself I know how important good accommodation is to the success of a business.   It needs the right equipment and technology, the right facilities, be in a good location, and it needs to be affordable. 

“Work hubs are providing that, and they’re giving small to medium sized businesses in Devon access to accommodation on short term contracts that can otherwise be difficult to find at the right cost.”

Businesses testify to the work hub success. 

Local firm Ewemove Barnstaple is a hybrid estate agency that sells and manages properties across North Devon. They’ve recently been shortlisted in the North Devon Journal’s Business Awards for Best Customer Service. 

Ewemove’s Branch Director, Russell Burrington, said: “Having started the business working from home in our spare bedroom, moving to Barnstaple Work Hub just over 12 months ago has allowed my business to flourish and I am now at the stage where I am looking to expand my workforce and upsize my office space. Not only has it given my company a more professional look but I have made some excellent connections here and it is a vibrant and busy place to work in.

“We are very proud to have been shortlisted for North Devon Journal Business Awards in the category of Best Customer Service.”

Amelia Isaac of the Design Shop also runs Barnstaple’s Work Hub.  She says: “The hubs are providing work spaces with meeting rooms for the day, but added to that is the enormous benefit that workers experience in meeting, chatting and swapping ideas with other business people working from the hub.

“There’s nothing better than seeing a new businesses come to us and within a few years they’re moving on as they require larger premises and take on more employees.    And they make room for another worker coming in and we see that person’s business grow too.  It’s good to have played a part in that growth.”

The Council is inviting expressions of interests to apply for work hub funding by midnight on Wednesday 30 May.

For more information and guidance, and to download an application form, please visit the work hubs website, www.devonworkhubs.co.uk