The Ashfield and Mansfield area has emerged as number two in the UK for the expansion of professional services, research and developpment firms and technology companies.
The findings, from independent research body, Centre for Cities , also put the area, recognised as Nottinghamshire’s ‘second city’ in the top ten for SME growth out of all 64 cities in the UK.
Nearly 30 per cent of SMEs in the sector have expanded their workforce in the last three years, the second highest percentage in the whole country.
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The 2014 Cities Outlook study puts the area in the top 10 conurbations for expanding SMEs, with 36.4 per cent of all small and medium sized companies increasing their workforce – the ninth highest in the country. Recent growth stories from local companies back up the figures.
Specialist medical equipment manufacturer BPR Medical, in Mansfield, has doubled its turnover in the last five years and aims to hit £10m within the next few years.
Managing director Richard Radford puts his company’s success down to the knowledge, skills and loyalty of its 35-strong workforce, a good industry association in the East Midlands and growth in exports.
He said: “Costs of premises are competitive in this area by regional and national standards and low direct costs have helped throughout the recession.
“The single most important contribution to our growth is our skilled and stable workforce. Our people are good, they are loyal and they carry knowledge that would take a long time to re-establish if they were pre-disposed to job hopping. Ours is a conservative business. The stability of our staff has been paramount.”
The area’s inward investment team Invest Ashfield & Mansfield says SMEs do well in the area because of competitive running costs, proximity to critical population mass, a hard working, loyal and flexible workforce, and being part of the fastest growing regional economy – The East Midlands.
Cllr Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration at Mansfield District Council says: “We’ve seen more and more SMEs doing better than ever. Productivity is up. Turnover is up. Profits are up. The economy is growing and the area is ripe for investment. This data confirms everything we have seen in the area and gives a confidence that attracts business to Ashfield and Mansfield.”
Nick Linney, Chairman of the Linney Group, which employs 750 people on a 34-acre site in Mansfield said: “We have seen 20 per cent growth in the last year and expect a positive growth trend to continue. That is down to the quality of our people. Their attitude includes great innovation and flexibility, which means we can chase future markets rather than being stuck in former markets. Our people want to get on and see our business growing.
“I can see this area getting better every single month. We now have well-priced housing and decent job opportunities in growing SMEs. This is an interesting place to be.”
The Centre for Cities tables also position the Ashfield and Mansfield conurbation in the top cities for manufacturing expansion; with 36.4 per cent of manufacturing SMEs increasing their workforce in the last three years – putting the area 14th in the country.
Cllr Jim Aspinall portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration at Ashfield District Council says: “This area is a great place for manufacturing firms. The construction, engineering and business skills here mean that they can get everything they need to run their businesses on their doorstep.”