A NATIONAL firm of accountants was so impressed by business optimism in Huntingdonshire that it decided to open an office here. Now Haines Watts, operating from its new premises in St Clements Passage, off Huntingdon High Street, for the past month, has become the newest sponsor of The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards. Appropriately for one of the town's newest companies, the accountants, who specialise in clients in the SME sector, will be sponsoring the New Business Award 2009. Director Simon Laskey told The Hunts Post: "There was a gap in our geography, and we looked at a number of places to open a new office. Huntingdon was by far the most positive area we looked at. "The overall message from the business community in Huntingdon and the surrounding areas was remarkably positive in the light of the national feeling of negativity and doom and gloom." Mr Laskey attended several networking groups to speak to the local business community before committing to the new office in Huntingdon in January 2009. "The Huntingdonshire Business Network, which meets at Commemoration Hall on every Friday at 1pm, was particularly positive about the future for local small to medium sized businesses that were bucking the national trend, reporting sales and profit growth almost without exception," he said. "This view is supported by the large number of networking and business clubs that are thriving in the area, with local businesses recognising that there will be challenges ahead but at the same time refusing to accept that there is only negative news. "The business decision to invest in a new office is never easy, particularly where nationally there are regular negative news stories. However, to invest in a positive and motivated local business community is a much easier decision to make and one that Haines Watts has been delighted with," he added. The company now has more than 55 offices across the country, but each retains a local focus, he said. "We are delighted to be associated with the business awards to make clear our support for local businesses and to ensure that we continue to recognise the positive business news stories that there are in Huntingdonshire. There is a great deal to be positive about locally and we are keen to make sure that this is recognised." Mr Laskey said the Haines Watts strategy over 80 years had always been one of clear customer focus combined with an ability to move with the times. INFORMATION: The new local office of Haines Watts can be contacted on 01480 43609, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or at 4 St Clements Passage, High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TP.