Leaders from business, the armed forces, charities and local government have celebrated the rapid expansion of an innovative support hub for young firms in Hampshire and Surrey.

Aldershot Enterprise Centre Manager Lorna Oldham with James Garland, Managing Director of Intouch Communications

Aldershot Enterprise Centre Manager Lorna Oldham with James Garland, Managing Director of Intouch Communications, one of the companies taking space at the centre.

The Aldershot Enterprise Centre has helped more than 40 new businesses get off the ground with 70 jobs created in the process.

Opened in 2015 by the not-for-profit business support company WSX Enterprise with help from Hampshire County Council, Enterprise M3 LEP, Army Covenant and The Royal British Legion, the centre provides serviced office space, advice and training.

Occupiers include entrepreneurs from a mix of civilian and military backgrounds.

More than 150 people attended the centre’s third annual Tea on the Lawn networking party, making connections over lunch and enjoying live entertainment from members of the Aldershot Military Wives Choir.

Centre Manager Lorna Oldham, who used the occasion to announce a time-limited free month rental offer to all new start-ups, said: “We have a wonderful array of blossoming businesses here and Tea on the Lawn is an ideal way to help celebrate their success so far and look to the future.”

WSX Enterprise Chief Executive Peter Grant, second from right, greets guests arriving for Tea on the Lawn.

WSX Enterprise Chief Executive Peter Grant, second from right, greets guests arriving for Tea on the Lawn.

Current tenants include security services specialist Gateway Security, driver recruitment firm Jon Morrissey, business communications company Intouch and the creative design agency Double Elephant, as well as a number of military charities.

Part of the old Mandora Barracks, the centre’s 8,000 sq ft Victorian brick building in Louise Margaret Road was converted into more than 30 offices after lying partly vacant for several years.

Among the benefits for tenants are meeting and training rooms and a year’s free business mentoring via the Mentor-Net service. Onsite facilities include a café, high-speed internet access and free parking.

WSX Enterprise Chief Executive Peter Grant said: “The Aldershot Enterprise Centre is playing a key role as a catalyst for job creation in north west Hampshire and Surrey. It was lovely to come to Tea on the Lawn and meet with aspiring business owners and others in the community keen to share in the centre’s success.”