Andrew Leeming: Engaging in conversations

By Ged Henderson

18 Jan 2024

Andrew Leeming Boost

For the past decade Andrew Leeming has been the very engaging, public facing voice of Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub. During that time, he has travelled the length and breadth of the county, attending countless events, networking opportunities and meetings, spreading the word of Boost and importantly to him, starting conversations.

It is a role he relishes and that conversation piece is very much central to Andrew’s approach when it comes to helping businesses achieve their aspirations. “It all starts with a conversation,” he stresses.

In the past 10 years Boost has started up those conversations with more than 14,000 businesses in the county, helping them access support to grow and develop.

It also played a major part in helping businesses through the Covid pandemic and setting them and the county’s economy on the road to recovery.

More than 5,000 people used its #AskForHelp service, created at speed in the midst of the crisis, as they worked to manage the initial impact of coronavirus on their operations.

That was followed by the #BoostYourRecovery campaign, available to help businesses understand the key challenges and opportunities and develop their ‘bounce back’ strategy.

Boost has now unveiled a new range of services, thanks to a fresh £3.9m funding deal.

Andrew, 53, whose title is programme manager, is excited by the opportunities that gives for fresh collaboration – and more talking and listening.

He says: “Yes, we have had conversations with around 14,000 businesses but to me that is not enough.

“The next 10 years should be about how we start to engage with the next 10,000 businesses, to actually start those new conversations. We should also be there to celebrate what awesomeness is in business, what is current best practice and thinking.

“And that comes back to everything we do in Boost. We should be amplifying what is great about business in Lancashire.”

Looking back at the role of Boost during the pandemic, including its peer working initiative which allowed people to share their challenges and solutions, he adds: “I still think let’s leverage from what we created during the pandemic, that ‘ask for help’. There are so many other campaigns we can do, using it as a blueprint.”

Andrew says: “Boost exists to help and assist businesses to go off and do amazing things. It doesn’t have a magic wand.

“It is business support in the most positive light it can be, helping businesses doing amazing things to overcome barriers which allow them to do even more.”

Andrew’s background is in health and community engagement development.

Originally from Nottingham he worked with the NHS in Stockport. He says: “The approach was very much about empowering communities and individuals to take action to improve their health outcomes.”

He adds that it is a skill set he brings to help tackle the issues and challenges of being in business.

Moving from health, he went on to join Lancashire County Council’s economic development company Lancashire County Developments Limited (LCDL) working on regeneration.

Then came the emergence of growth hubs. Andrew, a father of two grown-up children, who counts collecting digital art as one of his hobbies, says he used the experiences gained in community health development when it came to the approach Boost takes in engaging with business.

Boost is one of 37 growth hubs across the country. Andrew says: “Lancashire has been lucky that the county council has always been very supportive of the growth agenda and has always found funding to enable it. Without that support the growth hub would simply be a website.”

He would like to see more central government support for the national hub network and believes the hubs need to come together as one to press for that and for business support to be moved up the national agenda.

He says: “Part of the challenge is for us to up the ante, to go back to central government with a robust offer that shows what we can deliver and what it will cost.”

He points to Lancashire’s “headline conversation” which he says is about “the right support at the right time from the right provider.”

He adds: “We still need to be thinking about growth hubs being that single call to action. We will help you find what support is available depending where your ambitions are for your business. We don’t fix businesses. That is not what growth hubs are about.

“Each business is individual with its own needs and desires and their own personal way of wanting to work. The simple thing for me is making sure we are doing all we can to get businesses to start a conversation with us.

“Business support is not passive. We need to find those people determined to make changes in the business and to recognise their role in doing that. You have to show commitment.”

He returns to Boost’s role as a “magnet” attracting people in and gives one more rallying call to the county: “We should all be shouting about the amazing things people are doing here in Lancashire. Sharing that. That’s another big conversation piece.”

Enjoyed this? Read more from Ged Henderson

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