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Locate in Kent targets overseas firms to create jobs

Paul Wookey, Locate in Kent chief executive
Paul Wookey, Locate in Kent chief executive

Locate in Kent, the county’s investment promotion agency, aims to attract more overseas firms and jobs to the county by appointing three agencies to identify those looking to move or expand their operations.

England Development Agency in the USA, Sector Marketing of Germany and Frenger in France have been chosen to find potential leads in their respective markets, following a competitive tender process. The appointments were funded by £150,000 from Kent County Council.

The appointments were announced after latest figures from UK Trade and Investment showed the UK had continued to strengthen its position as the leading European destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), with 220 projects achieved in the south east.

“One of our key roles is to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) into Kent,” said Paul Wookey, chief executive of Locate in Kent. “FDI is particularly important as the investment from foreign companies tends to be greater in both capital and jobs terms than that of domestic businesses, and companies that move here from abroad often reinvest later.”

He added that the US, Germany and France had been targeted as they are countries whose companies had a proven record of investment in the UK, with latest figures showing 188 US- owned companies operating from Kent, with 69 French and 47 German.

The United States and Germany in particular have burgeoning life sciences businesses – a sector identified as particularly important for Kent, home to Discovery Park, Sandwich, and Kent Science Park.

Mark Dance, KCC Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We had a lot of applications from some excellent agencies for these three roles. The tender process was competitive and rigorous and I am confident we have appointed three agencies that will quickly begin to generate really valuable leads for Locate in Kent.

“There should be no doubt as to just how important the North American, German and French markets are to Kent in terms of FDI. We need a strong presence in all three if we are to attract crucial investment and jobs.

“By supporting Locate in Kent in appointing these new partners, we are confident we will soon see positive results in terms of new jobs being created here in Kent.”

Commenting on the UKTI figures, Mr Wookey added: “It’s good to see the figures up for the South East. Locate in Kent works closely with UKTI, both in London and overseas, in the effort to identify and attract investors to Kent.”

In 2012-13, 15 overseas-owned companies either started up in, or expanded or relocated to, Kent from places as diverse as New Zealand, India and Denmark, creating 559 jobs and retaining 277.

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