A support hub for small businesses in Staffordshire looks set to have made a difference to 1,500 companies in its first year of operation.
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub provides advice and direct business support to small and medium-sized companies. Support and advice is available through the area’s business helpline or face to face by a member of the Growth Hub team. Direct support is available through the hub’s grant scheme and private investment initiative.
The hub is a local enterprise partnership project which is led by Staffordshire County Council and has been funded in its first year as part of the City Deal. It is one of 15 pilot schemes across the country. The county council’s cabinet will be told that the hub is now on track to exceed its target to engage with 1,300 businesses in 2014/15.
Advice topics have included what type of financial support is available, specialist support such as start-up and export guidance or how to move premises. Growth Hub advisors coordinate appropriate support which can be delivered by a wide range of organisations.
Cannock-based Healthcare Licensing Support Ltd, a newly formed business that verifies medical professionals’ suitability to practice, is one company that has been supported by the Growth Hub advisory service. Managing director Wendy Bailes said: “The services we provide are extremely specialised and although we have extensive knowledge about them, running a business is completely new to me.
“Our director of operations got involved with the Growth Hub programme via the Chamber of Commerce. She has since attended successful meetings about grant applications, business mentoring, and business advice.
“The chamber has booked us onto lots of networking sessions that will help increase our knowledge base of running a successful business. We were extremely pleased after our meetings as we found it gave us the confidence that what we are doing is right by our business.
“Additionally, the reassurance that there is someone at the end of a telephone to provide support if you find yourself in a difficult situation is priceless. I cannot stress enough how helpful and supportive this service is.”
The Growth Hub uses the existing single point of contact for business advice – the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002. Funding for hub activities nationally is provided from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, under grant contract with Lancaster University.