Surrey's economy has been hailed a “powerhouse” with more than three-quarters of the county's businesses described as “primed for growth” in the next two years.

For Surrey County Council has said a survey carried out for it and Surrey Connects, an independent business-led economic development company working in partnership to stimulate enterprise growth across the county, has revealed that 77% of firms are optimistic about their prospects for expanding.

The survey also recorded that more than three in ten were already reporting annual increases in turnover or budget.

In addition, the survey found that almost 70% of the 1,300 businesses polled said they had innovated in the past three years, including connecting to faster broadband speeds, developing marketing strategies and investing in research and development.

Nearly nine out of ten companies said they were drawing up plans to develop their business, while around six out ten reported that they had sought advice on areas such as hiring staff, access to finance and training.

Other key findings included that one in four companies exporting goods and services expect foreign sales to rise in the next two years, nearly 15% of firms employed more staff in the past year, and struggling businesses largely blamed the recession, fewer new customers, greater competition and limited access to finance for their straits.

The county council has launched a raft of initiatives to support businesses and to build on the £30 billion Surrey generates annually for the UK economy.

The initiatives have included rolling out high-speed broadband to make Surrey the UK’s best connected county, incentivising employers to hire more than 750 apprentices in two years, pledging to ensure 60% of its spending is with local firms, and a £100 million roads improvement project.

Peter Martin, Surrey County Council’s deputy leader, said: “Surrey packs one of the country’s biggest economic punches, so it is hugely encouraging that our firms are clearly gaining confidence in their prospects for growth.”

Coun Martin said: “Their success will accelerate Surrey and the nation’s economic recovery, and that’s why the council is investing in infrastructure, so firms run more efficiently, rolling out high-speed broadband to help do business online, and creating hundreds of apprenticeships to provide the skilled workforce of the future.”

Mark Pearson, chief executive of Surrey Connects, said: “We welcome the findings which show that Surrey businesses are using their innovative and creative skills to drive future growth.”

He continued: “As champions of smart economic growth, Surrey Connects will be using the results of this important survey to inform our Surrey Big Debate, which gives businesses the opportunity to voice their views on the important issues that they face in today’s economy.”