The end of year figures from Locate in Kent, announced at an event at London Golf Club near Brands Hatch yesterday (14 June), reveal the investment promotion agency assisted a total of 73 companies to relocate, set-up or expand in the county in 2010-11. As a result, 2,588 new, retained and indirect jobs will be created.

The highest number of investments were from retail businesses, followed by those in food and agriculture and public administration, education and health. The sector responsible for creating the highest number of jobs was environmental technologies with 262 new jobs, followed by food and agriculture with 222 new jobs and public administration, education and health with 153. Medway attracted the highest number of companies (15), while Swale took the biggest share of new jobs created – 383.

Investments by national and international companies included GBA Services, one of Europe’s leading express delivery and logistics companies, which set up its south east distribution hub in Ashford and German solar energy specialist SunConcept, which opened its first UK subsidiary in Kings Hill. The majority of companies (82%) were UK-based but Locate in Kent also assisted 13 businesses from overseas – including five from the US and two each from Germany and France. This level of foreign investment has been consistent with numbers in previous years.

Indicating a healthy level of interest in the county, the pipeline of prospective investors showed 312 active projects at the end of the year, compared to 304 at the beginning of the year. The two most common sectors among active projects were business services and those in retail and wholesale (together 22%) and the most popular areas were Thames Gateway Kent followed by Shepway, Ashford and Maidstone.

Kent is continuing to attract significant interest from international companies, with 23% of active projects in the pipeline from foreign-owned companies; testament to Locate in Kent’s proactive international investment strategy and close working relationship with UK Trade and Investment.

Sir Brandon Gough, Chairman of Locate in Kent, said: “It’s been another challenging year for businesses, but it’s encouraging to see such a good number of companies still expanding, relocating and starting up in Kent and Medway – and we’re here to help them do that as easily as possible.”

Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “There continues to be a lot of confidence in the county as a business location. Locate in Kent is currently working with 310 projects with an interest in Kent and Medway. The recent news that Danish company Vestas plan to build a wind turbine manufacturing facility at Sheerness re-establishes the fact that the area represents an excellent opportunity for investors.”

For more information about Locate in Kent call 01732 520700 and to search for commercial property in Kent and Medway or visit www.commercialpropertykent.com.

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