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Business growth hub will be ‘game changer’ for economy, claims LEP

Business growth hub will be ‘game changer’ for economy, claims LEP

🕔21.Jan 2015

A one-stop shop where small firms across Greater Birmingham can access the advice and support they need will transform the local economy and boost growth, business leaders have promised.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) is promoting what it describes as a “game changing” initiative to establish a Growth Hub to provide business support information.

The enterprise is to be underpinned by an online interactive knowledge bank where small businesses employing fewer than 250 people will be able to share information and best practice and obtain guidance about European funding and grants.

The project, which is in line with the Government’s small business strategy Great Ambition, is designed to address concerns about the difficulty companies experience in obtaining easy to understand business support information.

A GBSLEP-led Enterprise Board planning the hub includes the Greater Birmingham Chamber, Marketing Birmingham, BPS Birmingham, Manufacturing Advisory Service, Aston Business School, Birmingham Future, CBI, Finance Birmingham, Birmingham Science Park, and Government departments.

Initial funding of £825,000 from GBSLEP’s Growth Deal and the business rates pool has been earmarked to get the scheme started.

Jack Glonek, assistant director at Birmingham city council’s economy directorate, said building up an interactive knowledge bank was important.

Mr Glonek told the economy scrutiny committee: “This activity is seen as a crucial step in aligning and co-ordinating the support we provide to our businesses. Currently businesses can be approached by a number of organisations from across the LEP and wider. These meetings are recorded by the visiting organisation along with the intervention or support provided. Currently this data is not shared any further.

“The proposed customer relationship management solution will, for the first time, gather this key high level data and make it accessible to all stakeholders. It will begin to provide the LEP and its stakeholders with a clearer understanding of our businesses, we will know who they are engaging with and why and we will also be able to identify those businesses that are not engaged at all.

“This new knowledge will help provide us with a greater understanding of the businesses in the LEP area and help us shape future provision accordingly.”

Mr Glonek said the knowledge bank would be “accessible by multi devices and services to an interactive web portal, have social media networks and functionality and dynamic content to show that it is alive.”

He added: “The proposed online interactive Knowledge Bank will supersede the LEP portal with an advanced online support system that is managed and maintained to ensure it is up to date and accurate.”

GBSLEP will work with the Black Country LEP to provide information about how businesses can access new money from the European Regional Development Fund.

Mr Glonek added: “This work becomes a crucial part of how the LEP will begin to help to shape the ERDF eligible pipeline of priority business support projects. It has been decided to progress this mapping and evaluation work in conjunction with colleagues in the Black Country LEP. This joined up approach will not only be cost effective but will provide a consistent data set across the two LEPs.

“The Enterprise Board has begun discussions on agreeing to a number of high level principles for the Growth Hub with a focus on simplification and being brave in developing something that will really help to transform business support for the area.”

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