August 22 2014 Latest news:
Shaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Friday, May 30, 2014
Norfolk and Suffolk’s army of small and medium-sized businesses are being promised a one-stop-shop of support to help them grow and deal with a host of issues threatening to hold them back.
From tomorrow a new ‘growth hub’ is promising firms free face to face business support, an online information portal and telephone helpline to businesses across the region.
Backed by the New Anglia local enterprise partnership the hub, which is being launched at the Suffolk Show, will act as a central point for companies and individuals and includes a network of nine mobile business growth advisers providing assistance and more detailed signposting to specialist innovation support if needed.
Since its launch the LEP has secured a plethora of funds and initiatives to support firms, but the aim of the new hub is create a single point of contact to make life easier for firms.
New Anglia secured access to £3.9m of funding for the hub as part of the Norwich and Ipswich City deals, which are set to drive growth and investment across Suffolk and Norfolk. It will be run by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and will support 3000 businesses from now May until June next year.
The cash from the government’s regional growth fund also includes:
n A £1.4m Small Grant Scheme with £5000 - £25,000 to create jobs in SMEs
n £750,000 for a Business Start-Up Programme to increase the number of new enterprises
n An Innovation Voucher Scheme to provide specialist support, consultancy and mentoring from higher education centres including the University of East Anglia, University Campus Suffolk and Norwich University of the Arts.
The LEP said it has been set up in recognition that small and medium-sized firms from across all sectors have a shared need for help, advice and support but also prefer to deal with a real person at the end of the phone.
Mark Pendlington, pictured, New Anglia chairman, said; “This is a major new initiative that puts business growth advisers on the ground across New Anglia to target expert help and support to start-up businesses as well as established enterprises. With the recovery gathering pace, this gives another welcome boost to growth, job opportunities and to local companies competing and winning in the marketplace. Help, support and advice is just a call or click away, so today we celebrate the Growth Hub being open for business.”
John Dugmore, CEO of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, who will launch the hub at the chamber’s Suffolk Show marquee, said: “The growth hub will play a fundamental role in the future success of businesses and will ensure the mechanisms are in place for financial advice and business support delivered by experts.”
Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, which is also supporting the initiative, said: “Although businesses operate daily using technology, nothing beats a face to face conversation with someone independent who has the knowledge to signpost to solutions. The opportunity to interact with growth advisers is a key benefit of this new service to assist Norfolk and Suffolk businesses meet their growth potential.”
The growth hub portal, providing national and local business support can be found at www.newangliagrowthhub.co.uk The telephone helpline for quick everyday support and to request an appointment with a growth adviser is 0300 456 3565 (9am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
Tucked away on Pottergate is one of Norwich’s best kept secrets, but it might not stay that way for long.