Langport shares in £50,000 boost for rural ‘work hubs’

The Somerset Work Hubs Scheme, led by Somerset County Council, has just announced the award of grants of £50,000. The scheme which is funded through the Heart of the South West Rural Growth Network Pilot (HotSW RGN) is designed to set up small-scale flexible business workspace – known as ‘work hubs.’ Each hub provides an ‘office when needed’ in rural areas where office space is hard to come by and many retail premises don’t come equipped with meeting rooms.

Local areas were invited to bid for the funding and last week SCC announced that £22,000 had been awarded to the Warehouse Trust to establish The Levels Work Hub at Great Bow Wharf in Langport offering hot-desking and business support services.

A second grant of just under £30,000 was awarded to Mendip Hub in Wells to further develop its facilities, including the creation of additional hot-desk and office space. Councillor David Hall probably understated the case when he suggested that “It’s no secret that businesses on the Somerset Levels have faced a particularly challenging time lately with widespread disruption caused by flooding. I’m delighted we are able to help set up a work hub in this area which I’m sure will play its part as the local economy continues its recovery.”

The development will be welcome. It will certainly provide much needed office space in an area that has little. The key question that remains unanswered by this initiative is how to get funding to allow new businesses to start and provide expansion capital for those up and running and looking to do better. Office space is part of the equation, but actually without the capital, it is tempting to suggest we are doing things in the wrong order.

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