Norfolk has seen a surge in start-up businesses looking for support from the chamber of commerce in the last year, its chief executive revealed yesterday.

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Caroline Williams said that since April, 30 start up businesses had signed up for support with six signing up this month, far higher than usual.

The news comes as the chamber announced it would provide free membership to the Norfolk start-up which wins the local element of the Newspaper Society’s Local Business Accelerators (LBA) campaign, which is being backed by Archant titles across Norfolk and Suffolk including the Eastern Daily Press.

Winners will receive significant advertising and mentoring support from their local Archant newspaper, as well as have the chance to go through to the regional and national finals.

Backing the LBA campaign, Mrs Williams said: “There are a lot of businesses that are starting – that could be either because people are fed up that they are not going anywhere in their current job, or the fact that they have spotted an opportunity in the market place.

“The newspaper is a fantastic medium and barometer of what’s happening in the business community and it gives them good background when they are looking to develop their business.

“Last year’s LBA winner really benefited, and I would encourage any business that’s starting up to take part.”

Backed by the Newspaper Society and supported by the Government and private sector’s Business in You campaign as well as Prime Minister David Cameron and Bank of England governor Mervyn King, the competition will see newspapers across the UK joining forces to deliver a £15m boost to promising young businesses through free advertising and mentoring.

And as hundreds of local and regional newspaper titles across the UK launch Local Business Accelerators, the Business Growth Fund (BGF), an independent business established to help the UK’s fast growing smaller and medium sized businesses, has come forward to add a £10,000 cash sum to the prize package for the overall winner.

BGF’s contribution means the prize pot for the overall LBA winning business now consists of a year’s mentoring from the campaign’s ambassador Deborah Meaden, a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency as well as the £10,000 cash prize.

n Three well-known faces will be making an appearance at Norfolk Chamber’s B2B Autumn 2012 business exhibition next Thursday.

Formula One and 2012 Olympic Games presenter Jake Humphrey, Anglia Tonight presenter Emma Baker, and Norwich City Football Chief Executive David McNally will be appearing at the free-to-attend flagship event, the county’s largest business exhibition, to show their support for local business.

B2B Autumn 2012 will be held at Norwich City Football Club on 18 October between 10am and 5pm.

For information or to book a stand, go to www.norfolkchamber.co.uk

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