Want to grow your business? Make your first step The LEP

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a new service to help ambitious small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the region grow and create jobs.

The new LEP growth service – launched at an event at the Google Digital Garage today - will act as a one-stop-shop for information about the support and funding available to SMEs in Leeds City Region that have the ambition and potential to grow.

Significant government-funded support is available to businesses in Leeds City Region, however the LEP’s research shows that businesses often don’t know what is on offer or how to access it. The LEP is looking to address this by providing a single point of contact to help SMEs find the right support to achieve their growth ambitions including business finance, export, innovation, skills including leadership and management.

The aim is to help 20,000 SMEs grow and prosper in the region over the next six years.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP said: “Helping business and enterprise to thrive is at the heart of our long-term plan to transform the Leeds City Region Economy. SMEs make up 99% of our business community: if they grow, our region will grow too.

“We know that businesses are often unaware of the support available to help them develop or unsure how to get started. Our new growth service has been created for small and medium-sized businesses as a single point of contact to help them explore and identify the right support for them and simplify the journey.

“Whether you are looking for funding, skills and training, export advice or digital skills, support is available and we at the LEP can help you find it.”

Eric Hawthorn, MD of Radio Design and LEP Board member shared his experiences with the business audience and encouraged other businesses to take advantage of support to grow more quickly. He said: “Having grown Radio Design from a start-up in 2007 to a large business employing 300 globally, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to find the right support at the right time. That’s why I’m delighted to have played a role in shaping this new service, which will make it easier for other businesses to reach their growth potential.

“We are fortunate to have a strong network of partners in the region, all working together in our shared interests to support small businesses and ensure our economy thrives. This new service will be essential in pulling together this support so that growth is made as simple as possible for the 100,000-plus SMEs that are the backbone of our economy.”

Small Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “Wherever they are in the country, businesses want relevant advice delivered by local experts – and Growth Hubs give them just that. They are a vital part of our plan to make the UK the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.

“There were over 9,000 new start-ups in the Leeds City Region in 2014, and this new service will be there to help them grow and create more jobs for local people.”

Through the new LEP service, businesses will be able to find support and funding from the LEP directly and from its extensive network of local and national partners. A team of SME growth managers based in local areas will provide intensive support to businesses in their areas that have potential for rapid growth. Information and support is also available through the new LEP website and a dedicated telephone helpline.

Over 100 businesses and representatives of business support organisations attended the event to hear from successful small businesses who have grown with support from the LEP or its network of local and national partners. Some of the local business heroes who shared their growth stories at the event included Tim Parkinson, MD of Airedale Springs in Keighley, Victoria Boldison, International Brand Controller at Principle Healthcare in Skipton and Melanie Oldham, MD of Bob’s Business in Barnsley.

At the event businesses were also able to take part in a digital master class led by Google experts to help them do better business online. The master class offered a flavour of the support available to SMEs at the Google Digital Garage at Leeds Dock.