By Swale Borough Council (Official Press Release) Photos added in by Launch It.
Eighteen to 30-year-olds on the Isle of Sheppey can get help bringing their business dreams to life now Swale Borough Council has agreed a new occupant for the recently refurbished Masters House in Sheerness.
Launch It is a group of charities who work to empower young people to fulfil their potential by providing the workspace, mentoring, and training needed to start a business.
The council invested £1.5m to renovate Masters House, and Launch It have signed up to turn the former council offices into an enterprise centre for supporting local people to set up and run their own businesses.
The refurbishment was carried out by local firm Astral Ltd, who installed a new lift and a suite of new kitchens and toilets. They have significantly reduced the building’s carbon footprint by installing an air source heat pump and upgraded the windows and insulation throughout the building.
The council’s £1.5m investment was used as match funding to help secure £20m from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to improve health, education, leisure, and employment opportunities in Sheerness.
Masters House is now a high quality modern working environment that offers a combination of small and large offices, an exhibition style function hall and meeting spaces.
Space will be available to young entrepreneurs at a discount, with support provided by Launch It.
A smaller amount of space will be available for more established businesses, with the intention that they can also help provide inspiration and guidance to the new entrepreneurs.
Cllr Monique Bonney, chair of the regeneration and property committee at the council, said: “When we decided to renovate Masters House, we were determined it would be used to create economic activity in the town centre.
“Working with Launch It will mean the building will be used to help young people in the area develop skills and have access to opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.
“Launch It has considerable experience running enterprise centres in economically challenged communities for more than 23 years, and they have a strong track record of encouraging young people in these areas to start and grow businesses.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing them get started and it will be exciting to see what local young people can achieve when they’re given the opportunity and support.”
Pat Shelley, CEO of Launch It, said: “We cannot wait to open the doors to young entrepreneurs at Masters House over the coming weeks.
“Launch It is delighted to be developing this new enterprise centre in partnership with Swale Borough Council and believe that it is the perfect place to ignite passion and give local young people the chance to gain skills, access support and build a business for themselves.
“There is a great need for what we do. There are a lot of talented young individuals living in less favourable social and economic circumstances who are prevented from reaching their full potential. This has a knock-on effect on society, with a less productive workforce, lower levels of innovation, and ultimately slower economic growth.
“Launch It harnesses this talent, helping empower young people to develop important skills and make valuable connections through entrepreneurship. This leads to a boost in confidence, the ability to create a better future.
“As a charity that has supported over 11,000 young people to start or grow businesses in the UK over the last 23 years, we are looking forward to providing great opportunities to young creatives, innovators and business owners in Sheerness and the local community.”
Launch It provide support in the crucial early stages of young people’s ventures, catering to both business and personal needs for success.
Safe, affordable workspace units at subsidized rent, with no long-term contracts, mitigating financial risks
Business and pastoral support with accredited on-site enterprise managers assist each individual through their journey
Funding opportunities through partnership-driven pitching competitions and events
Volunteer mentors assigned to share knowledge & expertise, guide and inspire
Skills training and networking with workshops and sessions with business leaders and groups
Over 11,600 young founders have benefitted from Launch It's work, and the results speak for themselves. Around 66% are still trading after five years, compared with the UK average of 44%.