Starting your own business, scaling up your SME or relocating to a town which is attracting millions of pounds of inward investment?
Ashford is the number one business location in Kent, and the business support available in town and in the surrounding areas only adds to the many advantages of relocating here.
Whether you need advice to set up a company, find the perfect office space or enrol your business in an innovative business programme, discover the business support available in the Ashford borough.
Scale Up Ashford
Scale Up Ashford is a business programme based on the Scale Up Institute principles, including increasing collaboration, improving skills, developing leadership and championing success stories amongst the business community.
The programme, led by Ashford Borough Council and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, and delivered by New Level Results, encourages the development of economic prosperity across the borough by helping local businesses scale up substantially and sustainably.
Thanks to intensive, tailored coaching sessions and access to expert networks, the companies will be able to increase their overall turnover, leading to the creation of new jobs and more investment in the borough.
The Scale Up Ashford programme started in September 2017, with a first cohort of six businesses: Forza Industries, Red Alert Telecare, AES precision Engineering, Directline Structures, Medash Signs and Visarc.
After the first six months, the Ashford-based companies registered a 21% average increase in turnover, they secured £20,000 grant funding and invested £500,000 in new plant and machinery in total. Seventeen new jobs were also created within the community.
A very successful cohort, the scheme was extended for another six months, and a second cohort was launched in April 2018, welcoming 10 businesses on board. We’ve interviewed two of these businesses: Six Two and Space Between. Following this extension and the launch of the second cohort, businesses recorded a 27.7% average increase in turnover and created a total of 48 jobs within the borough.
For more information on the Scale Up Ashford programme and to apply, visit their website.
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce offers business support to Ashford businesses.
The Ashford branch of the Chamber offers local companies free 1:1 business session to help you with specific issues, as well as more specific business services, such as international trade advice or project services.
The Chamber also organises key business networking events across the borough, including their Muesli Mafia Breakfast and After-Hours Club.
A dedicated website answers the most frequent queries entrepreneurs can have.
For more information about the different services they offer, visit the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce website.
Locate in Kent
Locate in Kent provides Kent businesses with free, confidential and impartial business advice on a variety of subjects, including funding, property, skills and manufacturing advice.
The team helps new and established businesses grow in Kent thanks to their unrivalled expertise in the local area and a network of high-profile partners. They will work with you to build a bespoke strategy to help your business thrive and expand in Kent.
For more information about their services, visit the Locate in Kent website.
Kent and Medway Growth Hub
The Kent and Medway Growth Hub is also located in Ashford. This branch of the South East Business Hub is an essential part of the business support available to
new and existing businesses in and around Ashford, as well as Kent.
The hub connects businesses to grants and financial support, and signpost them to expert advice on issues such as import/export, legal advice and apprenticeship schemes.
For more information about the support offered to Ashford-based businesses, visit the Kent and Medway Growth Hub page .
Tenterden District Chamber of Commerce
Tenterden District Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to raising the profiles of local businesses and services across Tenterden and its surroundings villages. The chamber has a proactive approach to business, leading the way to create an innovative business community in Tenterden.
Find out how the Chamber can help your business.
An essential part of promoting businesses to Ashford and Kent residents is the Love Ashford website.
This scheme developed by Ashford Borough Council promotes shops, businesses, services and events relevant to residents and tourists, who can register their business, services and offers on their website and social media platforms.
More information on Love Ashford.
Business Networking in Ashford, Kent
There are many ways to meet entrepreneurs and business professionals in Ashford.
Discover the main business networking events happening in Ashford:
Kent Digital Meetup at the Ashford Picturehouse. Led by Ashford-based business Six Two, it is where digital professionals meet once a month. It’s all about learning about what’s going on in the digital world, with talks led by experts, followed by networking time around beer and pizza. An informal setting to meet the key digital players in Ashford.
Kent Biz Fest: held at the Coachworks in Ashford, Kent Biz Fest will launch on May 19, 2020 and welcome keynote speakers and kent businesses for an evening of networking.
After Hours Club , organised by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. It’s the perfect casual environment to meet like-minded business professionals and extend your local network. The monthly event is held at the Conningbrook Hotel and is one of the most popular networking events around Ashford.
Network B2B Ashford, organised by Network B2B Kent. This Ashford networking group meets virtually every Thursday morning from 8am until 9am, and aims to connect businesses locally. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, you will get the opportunity to meet with like-minded businesses to discuss ideas and access business support. If you wish to register, please get in touch with Chloe.
Muesli Mafia Breakfast Networking, organised by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. A great way to start the day, the breakfast networking events held in Ashford allow you to strengthen relationships with business people you know, as well as meet new entrepreneurs over breakfast. Breakfast is followed by a talk and another networking session. The Muesli Mafia Breakfast Networking events are held quarterly, starting at 7.30am.
The BNI Garden of England weekly meeting, at the Ashford International Hotel. Organised every Friday morning at 6.30am, this weekly meeting is the perfect opportunity to meet other professionals in your area and get relevant referrals to grow your business. Each chapter only allows for one person per professional specialty, ensuring that you meet relevant prospects, and organises weekly talks. For more information, visit their website.