More than 100 people attended a unique event in Hereford dedicated to supporting businesses, helping them to grow and create jobs.
The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership hosted The Business Event 2017 which gave businesses a chance to learn about support, finance and funding on offer.
Delegates also heard secrets of business success from county entrepreneurs John Jones of retailer Philip Morris & Son and Nick van der Walle, of Astute Graphics, which works with Disney and Adidas from its city centre offices.
The event brought key business support organisations and networks in the region together for the first time. The LEP worked with partners Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Herefordshire Council and the Marches Growth Hub to organise the event which was held at Hereford Racecourse.
The LEP, the private sector-led organisation tasked with driving economic growth in the region, also launched its annual report and explained how the business community was helping the organisation to set its priorities.
LEP Director Gill Hamer opened the event, saying that the LEP was working hard to remove the barriers to business growth – improving skills, speeding up connections to superfast broadband and opening up development land for investment including part-funding the Hereford City Centre Transport Package via its Growth Deal with Government.
Gill said: "We are delivering on our promise of growth and investment, deciding on what the priorities for funding are based on what businesses are telling us.
"Our businesses are being supported through The Marches Growth Hub, which offers a central point of help, advice and information. It also promotes European funded business support projects to our SMEs – with 12 programmes launched since last year and eight more due to go live in the next few months.
"Nearly £800,000 has been received by businesses in grant funding and hundreds more have received expert support to develop new products, access new supply chains and export overseas."
Delegates also heard from Chris Hall, Director of Cargill’s UK Fresh Chicken Business and from Councillor David Harlow, who outlined Herefordshire Council’s economic growth strategy.
Gill added: "We were delighted to see so many businesses taking advantage not only of the chance to expand their network, but also the numbers seeking advice from our business advisors in the Business Support Zone.
"We also held workshops on export, intellectual property, cyber security for businesses and selling services to the public sector during the event."