Taking a Tour – Thriving Hastings Businesses
Business support organisation Locate East Sussex took a tour around a selection of thriving Hastings businesses with local councillors and officers showcasing the importance of providing support to businesses looking to grow.
Joined by Hastings Borough Council Economic Development Officer Pranesh Datta, Green Party Councillor Tony Collins, Deputy Leader of Hastings Borough Council and Councilor for Hollington Ward Maya Evans, and Business Investment and Projects Coordinator for East Sussex County Council, Peter Alder, the group visited 4 fantastic Hastings based businesses to talk through their progression, their challenges and the impact that the support from Locate East Sussex has had on their businesses.
Locate East Sussex is a business support service and the inward investment agency for East Sussex. Fully funded by East Sussex County Council, the 5 District and Borough Councils, and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), it provides free support and advice to businesses already based in, or looking to relocate to East Sussex. Providing 12 hours of free advice, support to access funding and business finance, help finding commercial property and free events and training, the organisation promotes business growth, stimulating the local economy and creating jobs.
The first stop was to electrical accessories manufacturer Focus SB, who have been producing innovative switch solutions in East Sussex for over 40 years. Supported by Locate East Sussex to access £67,000 of funding for tooling and equipment to create a range for the Chinese market, Managing Director Gary Stevens talked the visitors through the investment that has been made into machinery for the business, and also the challenges in creating a succession of skills, recruiting new talent and showcasing the range of roles available in the manufacturing industry. There was also a discussion on environmental impact, with Focus SB highlighting their initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
The next stop on the tour was new family entertainment centre ‘Owen’s Entertainments’. Set in the old Debenhams building in Hastings town centre, this exciting new venture will provide all season entertainment for a wide range of ages, offering traditional games as well as fully immersive experiences. Giving us a sneak peek of what’s to come, the group got to see first-hand how this centre has utilised a disused building and turned it into a utopia of fun and activity. Owner Graham Owen talked us through each activity available, and his vision for the future, and how Business Manager Adam Berger from Locate East Sussex helped them to access funding, and connections to get the project through to completion.
Stopping off for a bite to eat at popular St Leonard’s hot spot Heist Market, The group sampled some local produce from restaurant The Boatyard. Heist Market opened in 2021, turning an old bank into a buzzing food consortium, bringing together local restaurant and food producers under one roof to cater to all tastes. Locate East Sussex supported Heist to access funding helping them with their refit, and have been delighted to see it go from success to success ever since.
Feeling refreshed, the group then headed off to Ivy House Lane to visit Ned and Charlie, owners of Brewing Brothers brewery. A true Hastings success story, the journey this family run business has been on has been inspirational, as they have continued to expand and grow through the town, with aspirations to take the business even further. Ned talked to the group about the brewing process, the huge community support they have received, and how Locate East Sussex has support them to achieve their growth goals.
Our last visit of the day was to Platform Business Centre on Ivy House Lane to visit new residents Booyah Vitality. Producer of healthy Kombucha drinks, the family run business headed by Lisa and Philip, welcomed us into their new premises, explaining the complex process involved in producing the probiotic drink, and the various flavours on offer. Lisa explained how local support for their business has been phenomenal, receiving financial advice from Locate East Sussex, and support to access funding for some new equipment to aid their expansion.
Locate East Sussex have been delighted to be able to support all of these businesses in their growth, and were thrilled to be able to share these successes with the local councillors and officers, demonstrating the importance of business support in the area. Thank you to all of the businesses that hosted us.