New support programmes to boost North East businesses

A clutch of new business support programmes backed by the UK Government have launched to turbocharge the North East economy, as Paul McEldon OBE, Chief Executive of the North East BIC, explains…

A grand total of £2.6 billion is set to be spent on projects to boost communities across the UK over the next 12 months, courtesy of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

Taking on the mantle from ERDF, which supported so many vital community organisations and programmes, the fund will see new initiatives spring up across the North East aimed at building pride in place, strengthening communities and increasing life chances.

Projects will also be launched to boost productivity and strengthen local economies, by helping people set up and grow businesses, unlock innovation and grow the region’s social enterprise sector, which is where our business community really stands to benefit.

Here at the BIC, we are leading a number of consortiums which have been set up to deliver new, tailor-made business support programmes to the region’s aspiring and existing entrepreneurs and we are incredibly excited about the potential impact they look set to create.

The first project - which is already up and running - is Enterprising Sunderland, which we’re delivering on behalf of Sunderland City Council alongside Back on the Map, Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre, Sunderland BME Network, The Prince’s Trust, University of Sunderland and Smarta.

The programme is split into two parts – events and support for those looking to set up a business, and those already in business.  

Those looking to set up can tap into one-to-one support from expert business advisers and attend workshops in venues across the city to help them understand everything they need to know about setting up.

By delivering workshops in the community and working with the wider consortia, the aim is to take our support right into the heart of the areas we serve, making them accessible to people from all walks of life.

It’s not just about giving people the tools to set up a business, either, but also the confidence. Statistically, the North East has one of the lowest start-up business rates, which is why we must shift perceptions and make people realise that setting up and growing a business isn’t just for people who have studied business or have the financial muscle, but for absolutely anyone.

The second arm of the support is geared towards helping the city’s existing businesses innovate and grow. Through Growth Lab: Sunderland, a monthly event kicking off next month, we will be bringing businesses from various sectors together to discuss challenges to growth, opportunities to expand and how we can work more collaboratively to help one another. 

The first event will take place on Thursday 28th March at Café 1851, with local entrepreneurs Harry Collinson (Café 1851), Simon Whitaker (Master Debonair) and Mandy Brown (Harrison & Brown) among the first cohort of speakers, so I’d encourage any business owner interested in attending to reserve their place.  

Social Enterprise Boost Durham, Social Enterprise Gateshead and the Wear Together Initiative in Sunderland on the other hand will be launched to help grow the region’s social enterprise sector. 

Offering one-to-one advice, networking events, small grants and free workshops, we have established dedicated teams of social enterprise experts who will work within each target area, delivering support on the ground to those who need it most, comprising everything from financial advice to expert coaching with marketing, business planning and more.

And with even more projects set to be announced over the coming weeks and months, there is a real window of opportunity for the North East business community and those looking to join it to realise their potential and play their part in boosting the regional economy. 

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This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by North East BIC .

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