A new project which will revolutionise the way businesses in the Marches access vital support and advice is to be launched this autumn.
The Marches Growth Hub will bring together all the national and local business support in a ‘one stop shop’ for the first time in a bid to help businesses in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin grow and thrive.
The hub will be based around a comprehensive business support website and dedicated enquiry phone line for firms to access funding, support and advice.
It is being developed by The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, the private sector-led organisation tasked with driving economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. The LEP is working with its local authority partners, Herefordshire Council, Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council on the project, as well as the chairs of the three area Business Boards.
In addition to the ‘virtual’ support centre, three hub offices are planned for Hereford, Shrewsbury and Telford, where business support specialists will be on hand to provide bespoke advice to anyone from sole traders to start ups and SMEs.
LEP Chairman Graham Wynn said: "Research has shown businesses are frustrated with, and confused by, the wide range of support services and products that are currently on offer.
"The Marches Growth Hub will offer a single reference point where they can access relevant information and support rather than having to navigate their way through the different levels of support available locally and nationally that are available through local partners and advisors.
"The hub will offer an ‘always-on’ point of information to help businesses find out exactly what is on offer.
"Any company, from sole traders and start-ups to SMEs will be able to access initial advice and guidance. A simple click of the mouse will ensure that businesses are directed to the support on offer for them, and not a list of hundreds of schemes which may not be relevant to their enquiry."
Mr Wynn added: "This is a very exciting project and will support the key aims of the Marches LEP to drive economic growth and job creation.
"The Marches Growth Hub, which is part of a national drive by Government to put LEPs at the heart of streamlined business support activity, will be the leading business support brand in the region.
"It will integrate national support with strong, locally available activity offered by both public and private sector business support options. We are looking at how we can bring some focus to making sure business needs are serviced locally, that the support being provided is relevant for both start-ups as well as our SMEs."
The Marches Growth Hub will also contain a skills page and information on training and events for new and existing businesses with an online booking facility.
Fully aligned with the national ‘Business is GREAT’ campaign, it will have a single contact telephone number and email which will be operated and managed by the Marches LEP team.
The Marches Growth Hub will be officially launched in September 2015.