More companies choosing Ashford

Ashford has welcomed a new report which identifies the fast-expanding town as the most improved area in Kent over the past five years, with nearly two thirds of businesses impressed by rising levels of investment, a growing business base and improved rail links.

Almost two thirds of businesses, developers, investors and other property professionals polled by Locate in Kent viewed Ashford as a good or very good place to do business. Positive perceptions of Ashford to emerge from the study include:

  • 59% view Ashford as a good or very good business location.
  • Excellent rail links, good road links, proximity to Europe and London, geographic location, available sites, quality of life and a supportive local council were all listed as positives.
  • 62% say Ashford has improved as a business destination over the past five years – up from 57% in 2014.
  • Awareness of the area is high – nearly half know a lot or fair amount about Ashford (even though the 2017 survey had been extended to include more responders from outside the region).
  • More than three in five (62%) state that Ashford has improved as a business location over the past five years. This is up from 57% three years ago and makes Ashford the most improved district in the county.

“This latest study proves what we already knew – that Ashford is the number one business location in Kent,” said Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council.

“It will help us in our efforts to drive economic growth, boost employment and generate greater prosperity for all our residents.”

The Locate in Kent survey measures the attitudes of key influencers in the South East and nationally towards Kent as a business location and finds that more businesses are choosing to locate to the county.

Conducted by leading market research company Facts International, itself based in Ashford, it involved interviews with 238 businesses, developers and investors, property agents, architects and other advisers.

The statistics are impressive but what do company bosses and other responders think of Ashford as a business location? Comments in the survey include:

  • “It’s economically dynamic and the population has grown enormously.”
  • “Improved office spaces and more business parks.”
  • “New development and a lot of input from the local authority.”
  • “Location and communications links. There would be a workforce available… and there’s a quality of life for people around Ashford.”

Asked why they thought Ashford will become even more attractive to businesses in the future, those surveyed said:

  • “It has significant growth potential and takes advantage of its international connections.”
  • “New investment and development is likely to have knock-on impacts on the local business community.”
  • “Location and connectivity. More people will recognise the location and will bridge the gap between mainland Europe and the UK.”
  • “More development and local authorities doing a good job of advertising.”

Cllr Clarkson said: “The study is an insight into how Ashford is viewed by businesses, developers, investors and others who play a key role in economic development in the UK. It is hugely encouraging to see that our efforts to promote Ashford are continuing to pay off.

“We are not complacent about the task facing us in achieving the economic growth we are striving for and we shall examine the results of the study carefully to see what we can learn, and then apply these to continually improving the area as a place for business.

“For example, we note comments that more should be done to revitalise the town centre and develop better quality facilities for residents. We have a plan in place to do just that, with more than £520m worth of developments currently underway, including a new cinema and entertainment complex, investment in retail and leisure and a lot more,” he added.

For more information on the Locate in Kent Perception Study visit www.locateinkent.com