By Helen Geraghty
Company bosses are increasingly looking to Kent as a great place to do business, new figures showed today.
Improved transport links, better marketing of the region, and increased investment have all boosted the county's profile as a business hub, according to a survey by promotion agency Locate in Kent.
One of 300 business leaders surveyed across the south east, for the agency's 2010 Perception Study, said: "Kent seems to be improving every time I go there. It has been made more accessible in various parts. Some areas have been cleaned up and they have been marketing the area well."
And another boss said: "The area is receiving considerable investment. The infrastructure is improving. Proximity to London is the key."
Awareness of Kent as a business location has increased by more than a third since a similar Locate in Kent study in 2003. In 2003, just 48 per cent of companies surveyed said they had heard "a great or fair deal" about Kent and Medway as a business location. In the latest survey, 69 per cent said they knew about the area.
Investors were particularly positive, with 72 per cent feeling that Kent had improved as a place to do business.
Of the 64 per cent of bosses surveyed who were aware of the high speed rail service from St Pancras to Ashford International, nearly 90 per cent thought this made Ashford a more attractive business location. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed had heard about the high speed trains that travelled from Ebbsfleet to London in 17 minutes and there was also a high level of knowledge of Eurostar services from Kent.
Paul Wookey, chief executive of Locate in Kent, said: â€œThe Perception Study shows that Kent continues to be increasingly well regarded as a business location. It indicates the messages put out by Locate in Kent and its partners about cost effectiveness and available property and land in Kent and the countyâ€™s proximity to London and Europe are definitely getting through.
"Locate in Kent has experienced increased interest in its website, and this is currently where 50 per cent of our successes originate. To build on these positive perceptions, we have just targeted 2,500 finance directors in the south east with a campaign to further promote these messages.â€
*The study was prepared by Ashford-based Facts International during June and July