Hampshire is the largest county in the South East; with the M3 cutting through its centre, it stretches from its suburban neighbours in the north to the coastal ports of Southampton and Portsmouth in the south. It’s spectacularly rural with the beauty of the New Forest and South Downs, yet extremely business focused when we look at the high job densities of Winchester and Portsmouth. Hampshire thinks big in boasting its own international airport at Southampton but is proud to demonstrate higher than average bicycle use. It’s certainly an area of wild variation, so in this way, we find its ability to accommodate any business or industry second to none.
As well as the English Channel, Hampshire is bordered by Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex. This breadth of neighbouring counties means that Hampshire sees a large crossover of commuters in and commuters out, with almost equal proportions of commuter flow being shown both in and out of the county in figures from the most recent census in 2011.
Hampshire’s major employers tend to cluster either in the north or the south of the county: Aviva in Eastleigh, Sony in Basingstoke, IBM in Portsmouth and QinetiQ, Fluor and BMW in Farnborough. The Hampshire economy is worth approximately £35 billion with business continuing to build across industries. Amongst other expansions in manufacturing and retail, there are plans next year for a £200 million leisure park across 60 acres in Basingstoke and a £100 million business development at Southampton’s Chapel Riverside site by 2022.
New Business Support
Hampshire is a hive of local business people as well as big players. The contrast of the urban and the rural that the county embodies has resulted in a wide variety of resource for support. The county council offer comprehensive assets in support of new businesses, from locating networking and business support groups to funding advice, and several different independent business award programmes operate within and across the county.
Wellness and Wellbeing
In such a business focused county, it is easy to overlook the unique balance of nature and space which Hampshire offers its workers. The New Forest national park attracts 13.5 million visitors a year, so looking beyond the nearly 8,000 jobs that it generates we should consider the benefit of being situated between the national park and the South Downs in terms of how being amongst such a green space can balance working stress.
This is a hot topic in Hampshire, Southampton & Portsmouth are unitary authorities while the rest of the county is operated under tiers of a county, district and town council leadership. Indeed, the talk of 2016 was all about devolution and a consultation took place on creating either a single ‘mega’ council or two large unitary authorities covering the whole county. Since the consultation and the many consultant reports that followed, it’s all gone a bit quiet. The estimate was that local government savings could be made of up to £14 million in the first year from either a one or two unitary option in Hampshire. Should this be correct, it’s probably a good thing for Hampshire business both current and future.
As a business in Hampshire, you can expect to attract skills not just from across the county but from the neighbouring areas too. You can offer your staff an environment that achieves a balance of wellbeing that is a challenge for most other counties. Finally, you can enjoy the company of some pretty considerable international corporations who have kept the area buoyant in uncertain times. Getting your specific location right is key, so engage professional expertise to find the ideal place for your business.