Business owners across Leicester and Leicestershire, looking to expand and grow their enterprises, now have access to an enhanced service through the Business Gateway Growth Hub, including the addition of a £1.4 million pot of grant funding.
The Business Gateway Growth Hub service is backed by a newly designed website providing a straight-forward and comprehensive menu of the support and finance opportunities on offer to business owners across the city and county.
The site aims to simplify access to business support with a strong call to action to contact the team via email, telephone, social media or submitting a specific query form. There are front line business advisers who deal with all incoming enquiries and signpost to the most relevant or appropriate help, saving time and keeping busy entrepreneurs and those thinking about starting a business well informed of the options available to them.
The Business Gateway has provided intensive support to over 1,000 Leicester and Leicestershire enterprises since 2014 and will continue to provide a variety of core services including tailored, one-to-one advice, a programme of presentations and workshops, finance opportunities and support programmes.
Following successful bidding to the European Regional Development Fund a further £3.9 million has been secured to deliver an enhanced service for local companies. This will be run in partnership with Leicester City Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), Leicestershire County Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP).
This broader service means there will be a larger team of advisers offering free, impartial and commercial-focused business advice and information. A new Business Growth Grant is available to established small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) trading business-to-business and looking to create jobs or develop new products/services. With support from a Growth Hub adviser, SMEs can apply for the capital grant, which ranges from £2,000 to £25,000, making up 35% of the total project cost.
The Growth Hub will continue to offer a free programme of events to help businesses develop skills and knowledge on all aspects of running a successful business including strategy, sales, finance, marketing and HR procedures while also signposting to relevant business support events from other providers across the county.
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “This builds on from the ERDF-funded Collaborate project led by Leicester City Council, which brought in £2.4 million of private sector investment and created more than 200 jobs. Through projects such as these Leicester businesses can really benefit from practical advice to help them sustain or grow.
“Having met with some of the businesses that were helped through Collaborate funding, I have seen the impact this type of support can have, and the benefits it brings to local people by creating jobs and improving working environments.”
Diane Beresford, Deputy Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber and the Chamber’s lead on ERDF-funded programmes, said: “Since its inception in 2014, the Business Gateway has been integral in supporting ambitious, forward-thinking SMEs across Leicester and Leicestershire. This additional tranche of funding ensures more businesses can take advantage of an ever-increasing range of specialised services on offer, which is clearly fantastic news.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of our region’s economy - they create wealth and enhance the communities they operate in. For businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire to be able to tap into fully-funded support and access finance for growth is not just a boost to the organisations concerned, but also to the local area. I would strongly urge eligible businesses to join the 1,000+ SMEs that have already benefited from this comprehensive and constantly-evolving programme of support.”
Councillor Trevor Pendleton, cabinet member at Leicestershire County Council, added: “The Gateway offers Leicestershire businesses a fantastic opportunity to access tools and finances to help them grow and invest.
“Ninety per cent of businesses in the county are SMEs with less than nine employees, which is why it is so important that we support this service and continue to establish Leicestershire as a great place to work and live.
“We are making huge investments in Leicestershire including upgrading digital infrastructure and investing in roads, homes and business parks, alongside supporting programmes which offer business grants and advice. I hope to see many more Leicestershire businesses benefitting from the support that the Gateway offers businesses in the future.”
Helen Miller, Growth Hub Manager, said: “This is a very exciting time for the Business Gateway as we begin delivery of more face-to-face business advice and open the Business Growth Grants for applications.
“We are proud to be serving the diverse business community across our city and county. Our aim is to make business support and advice as accessible as possible and build support networks for businesses to benefit from peer-to-peer interaction. Often a bit of external help can make a big difference to how quickly a business owner achieves their goals and aspirations.
“We want to support our local businesses to thrive and prosper, creating a strong business economy for Leicester and Leicestershire.”
Businesses can speak to a friendly and knowledgeable Front-Line Business Adviser by calling 0116 366 8487 or visiting the new website and completing an enquiry form.