A successful year for Business Link in the North East
BUSINESS Link says it has beaten its targets in helping firms in the North East to grow and create more than 5,500 jobs over the last year.
The advice and assistance service aided in starting up over 4,500 new businesses between April 2009 and March 2010, an increase of 16% from 2007/8.
It also says it has safeguarded over 2,300 jobs through its work with existing firms. The service has established or maintained links with more than 33,200 businesses, providing guidance or directing companies to funds from the North East England Investment Centre.
Business Link is delivered by independent organisation Business and Enterprise North East, which handles contracts including international trade support for UK Trade and Investment and Olympic supply chain opportunities through Compete North East. BE-NE chief executive Alastair MacColl said: “What we’ve tried to do over the last three years is to make the Business Link service more comprehensive, integrated and accessible.
“Because BE-NE also offers those other services, all that is available through one door now. Whatever support is most appropriate to a company, we make sure they get it and we’ve been able to substantially reduce the cost of these services.”
The overall number of businesses worked with exceeded the year’s target of 32,555, while the number of businesses created was also over the aim of 4,000. Jobs created was over 5,600 compared to a target of 4,420 while in-depth support was given to 22,500 compared to the 17,200 target.
Tony Sarginson, head of external affairs for manufacturers organisation EEF, said: “Our manufacturers in the North East continue to benefit from the support they receive from BE-NE.
“They are particularly appreciative of the way the organisation has responded quickly to the ever-changing business trading conditions.”
Mr MacColl added: “We’ve seen an increase in the number of businesses using the Business Link service across all sectors. There’s been significant growth in the number of established businesses and larger businesses using the service.
“We’ve noticed that the number of businesses working with us on Olympic supply chain opportunities has grown pretty sharply, but we’ve also seen rises in areas such as services, oil and gas, defence and process.”
Business Link has arranged over 660 pre-start practical workshops across the region as well as events such as Business Exchange North East in March, which gathered 2,000 buyers and suppliers from the region.
When the mothballing of the TCP steel plant in Redcar was announced in February, it also handed out advice and arranged presentations on self-employment to over 250 employees. More than 100 have continued to develop their business idea with an adviser.
It also worked with major banks and One North East to draw up criteria on whether businesses should receive financial support.
While workshops such as Keep Your Business Fighting Fit last year were designed to help businesses in the region thrive and survive through the recession, the organisation is now increasing its focus on growth, both locally and internationally.