Marcelle Castle, Director of Property at NWES, a business growth and advice service supporting the project, said it would encourage job creation by attracting year-round business, providing opportunities for local people.
“The re-development of the site will bring economic benefit to Southwold businesses and the town as a whole.
“We expect the hub to act as a catalyst for local business growth as the facility will provide business support to both tenant and local businesses to enable their growth and development.”
Research undertaken in 2017 by the Coastal Communities Team’s Economic Plan showed that while tourism was vital to the Southwold’s economy, it also has significant negative consequences.
As a result of the seasonality of the tourism trade, local independent services struggle to maintain businesses in the off-peak months due to the drop off in visitor footfall, which increases reliance on the dwindling permanent resident population.
The recent Town Centre Strategy showed that 35pc of businesses reported that securing potential local customers was a problem, compared to just 3pc in small towns nationally.
Around 78pc of jobs in the town are tourist-based, so employment can be seasonal, with almost half of the visitors staying between May and September.
And for non-tourism, non-retail businesses there is a lack of suitable premises, particularly away from the High Street. In a previous study 84pc of residents thought it important to have ‘small, flexible use premises’ provided for small and start-up businesses.
Since that study in 2013, no new capacity has been delivered aside from three small employment spaces.
The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, which works to promote interest in local business possibilities, has thrown its support behind the venture, with a spokesman highlighting how it would build on the town’s existing strengths.
“It’s great to see the development of an Enterprise Hub in Southwold, offering new facilities and infrastructure to a new audience and providing opportunities for start-ups and existing small and medium sized businesses.
“This kind of offer will future-proof Southwold and help it build on its existing strengths in leisure and hospitality. New facilities such as these are vital to keeping young people in Suffolk and preventing the brain-drain effect to places such as London.”
A spokesman from East Suffolk Council added: “East Suffolk Council has supported the town council’s vision of an Enterprise Hub, including enabling access to funding through the Coastal Communities Fund, and will continue to support it as the project is moved forward.”