Published: January 26th, 2016
A virtual business support hub that has revolutionised the way businesses in The Marches can access information and advice is being hailed a success with a surge in new enquiries.
The Marches Growth Hub is a business friendly website that provides a gateway to information on finance and funding, networking and events, advice and support, employment and skills in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
It has been receiving between 1,200 and 1,900 page views per week with more than 12,000 of its business support pages browsed by users since it launched at the end of October. And since the start of the year, the business support helpline at 0345 6000 727 has also seen a surge in enquiries, with callers looking to access information on a variety of issues from export to financing.
The virtual hub at www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk has been developed by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and operates alongside three physical hubs in Hereford and Telford, with a third due to open in Shrewsbury in March.
The launch of the site was backed by a dedicated social media campaign across four platforms, including a YouTube channel.
Marches Growth Hub chairman Paul Hinkins said: "Early indications are that the virtual hub is working well and the two physical hubs in Telford and Hereford have also been well received.
"The virtual hub is being used exactly as it was intended – as a self-serve business support resource and businesses are almost using it like the Google of business support to find products and services which are relevant to them."
Visitors to The Marches Growth Hub are fairly evenly split across the three counties with 38 per cent originating in Shropshire, 33 per cent in Telford & Wrekin, and 29 per cent from Herefordshire.
Around 29 per cent of users are people looking to set up businesses while 46 per cent of browsers are organisations that have been established for more than three years.
"It is interesting to see the spike in enquiries at the start of the year, and many of these are potential new businesses or those looking to expand.
"The Marches Growth Hub was developed in partnership with businesses and this is paying dividends now it is up and running.
"We will be continuing with a sustained promotion of The Marches Growth Hub across the region so businesses can easily access the help they need to grow and prosper, whatever their sector, size or stage of growth."