North Somerset’s Hive business centre celebrates first year success
James Durie, Executive Director of the West of England Initiative recently attended The Hive, North Somerset’s flagship business development centre, to celebrate its first anniversary. It was announced that its first twelve months have proved so successful, its team is now thinking about Phase Two, which will see the addition of a new wing linking to the existing building and creating another 40 offices.
The news came during an open morning and day of entrepreneurial themed events to mark the building’s first major milestone, with around 150 local businesses attending a celebratory breakfast and a “Successful Entrepreneurs” forum.
Guests heard how 30 tenants have already taken office or virtual space at The Hive in its first year, with 51 per cent of the building now occupied – far outstripping the 35 per cent occupancy rate that had been targeted for this period. The Hive’s tenants are currently supporting 56 jobs in North Somerset thus actively contributing to the local economy and, as a hub for the community, The Hive has hosted more than 300 business, meeting and training events since opening.
The morning also saw the unveiling of a new video (https://youtu.be/pl3NHf3XxP4) promoting the office space, meeting space and business advice on offer and including interviews with existing tenants on their experience to date.
At a business breakfast which opened the day of celebration, Mike Jackson, CEO of North Somerset Council, paid tribute to The Hive as being “an early beacon of what is being achieved in the area”.
“The Hive is a flagship project in the J21 Enterprise Area and has set a high benchmark in design.” said Mike. “Its success at this early stage shows a genuine business need for what it offers. Its managed facilities provide a soft landing for businesses moving into the area or moving into offices for the first time and its meeting and conference rooms – which provide us with a perfect showcase for companies coming into North Somerset – are making business easier for everyone.”
Paul Kelson of modern marketing specialists Echo Engage, which has recently moved into The Hive told the audience: “Working with SMEs we didn’t want corporate offices – but we did want premises that had access to the M5 corridor and flexibility, because as a new business you’re not sure what’s going to happen or what you might need.
“We looked at all available accommodation in the area – and The Hive was head and shoulders above any other, making it an easy decision. We’ve got easy parking, light and airy offices, a business community in our building, support from The Hive team when we need it and easy access. In addition our visitors, without exception, have said what great premises we have. We are very happy and plan to stay and hopefully grow here.”
Growing a business and “secrets” of entrepreneurship were the subject of a forum, attended by local well-known entrepreneurs and business owners John Thatcher, Chairman of Thatchers Cider, Gemma Day of Dowlas UK Ltd and Andrew Scott, Founder and CEO of The Ascot Group who shared their business stories and lessons learned with the audience of start-up and growing local businesses, before taking questions from the floor.
The anniversary celebrations concluded with a networking lunch and tours of the energy-efficient, sustainable building.
Angela Hicks, CEO of not-for-profit organisation North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA), which owns and manages The Hive, said: “The Hive has enjoyed an amazing first year, exceeding all of its targets and quickly becoming established as a popular location to do business in North Somerset. We are delighted with the way the business and local community has responded to our offering.
“It’s hard to believe that we are already needing to consider expansion, but at our current rate of tenancy, we could be full by end of year two! We already have planning permission for a new wing, which will “add on” to our existing building – although taking it forward was originally in our plans for year five! However we will be thrilled to offer even more businesses the opportunity to take space in our thriving business community
“Today has been about saying thank you to those who have supported us in our first year – from our tenants to our ambassadors. Hopefully the year ahead will see more people coming to the centre and recognising what a great place it is to work and do business.
“We are justifiably proud of what The Hive has achieved in its first 12 months. It is our aim that North Somerset can continue to be proud of The Hive going forward.”
James Durie said: “I was delighted to join Angela and the Hive to celebrate its first year. There is a real sense of change at the Junction 21 Enterprise Area with clear signs of positive investment.”
Information about The Hive can be found at www.thehiveweston.org.uk or by calling 0800 083 3093.