"Hub" to support Winchester business

Winchester City Council is taking a leading role in setting up a central "hub" as a focus for business support throughout the district.

Cabinet has approved a report recommending that a Winchester District Enterprise Centre be based at premises in Parchment Street in the City. It will provide a comprehensive signposting service for businesses and entrepreneurs to get advice and training, host specialist one-to-one surgeries and offer cost-effective space for small meetings.

It will also become the headquarters for the Winchester City Centre Partnership and the area office for the North Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The report stated that business advice in the Winchester district has traditionally been provided in a very fragmented way. The Winchester District Enterprise Centre is a direct response to concerns and is a joint project between the City Council, the City Centre Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and the University of Winchester.

Other agencies involved will be Business Link Wessex, the Rural Enterprise Gateway, enterprise agencies and Sparsholt College.

Cabinet recommended to Council that £15,000 is given as a start-up grant for the centre, plus £5,000 a year towards running costs for the 5-year period of the lease.

Leader of the City Council, Cllr George Beckett, said it was an exciting move to increase support to both existing businesses and budding entrepreneurs, who are vital to the future success of the local economy.

"We want local businesses to thrive and prosper and this will be a single focus for support for all businesses throughout the district.

"Winchester is also fast establishing itself a centre for creativity, from the arts to high technology. It is the home to two Universities producing arts graduates who are often keen to stay and work in the area, and we must also consider specialist support for those creative industries," he added.

"Because more people are providing their service electronically, there has been a reduction in face-to-face contact but there is evidence to suggest businesses would welcome a return to a more personal approach. The Centre will enable this to happen in a central location."