BUSINESS is booming in Swindon after the town was named the fourth best place in the country for growing industries.
The Centre for Cities Small Business Outlook provides a health check for the business environment and Swindon has ranked as one of the top, beaten only by Cambridge, Brighton and Edinburgh for rate of growth.
Hundreds of new start-ups have been created over the past few years, all of which feel confident about their prospects.
Louise Joachim, owner of Wendyhouse Flowers, said mentoring companies such as Outset Swindon have a huge input.
“Outset have a great deal to do with the number of small businesses opening up now, and they are 100 per cent the main reason why most small businesses have really taken off,” she said.
“They give you those people behind you who are constantly moving you along, and when you get a bit stuck with financial or legal issues they have got those people on-hand to put you in touch with.
“Business is going very well, and I have been surprised how well things have picked up over the last year.”
Louise said she believes more could be done to help young businesses expand.
“I am very frustrated that Swindon Council will not support pop-up shops,” she said. “It makes no sense, and other places have shown it can be very successful.
“Small businesses have all said they are ready to take that next step but cannot afford the rates.
“That is why so many of us go into the business parks, who are offering better deals. They need that little next step before they can make the big leap. People like me could then trade quite happily and build up a larger clientele.
“I am not surprised we have rated so highly because of the amount of small businesses we have thriving here.
“There is a great deal of opportunity in Swindon and the competition is out there. The problem is there are so many small businesses staying small.”
Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Through their decision to prioritise growth and innovation, high performing firms are playing an important role in the UK’s economic recovery and creating jobs in their local communities.
“What is very clear is that the business conditions in cities and local communities have also played an important role in driving those firms’ successes.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “Working with organisations such as Outset Swindon, it is clear there is a real appetite for local residents to embrace the opportunity of starting their own businesses.
“Having spoken to a number of landlords they are willing to be flexible, as often letting a fledgling business get their first foot in the door goes on to provide them with a long-term tenant.
“We have had the fastest growth on the South West for a number of years, and have had 5,300 new start-ups since the General Election.”