Business leaders hail impact of county growth hub

An ambitious business support project aimed at growing Lancashire’s economy has helped 1,000 businesses access support in its first year.

Boost Business Lancashire, the county’s £7.2m growth hub, provides free or part-funded business support in areas such as mentoring, leadership, access to finance, innovation and skills.

By targeting support at ambitious, growth-hungry businesses and start-ups, it aims to grow the county’s economy by £20m and create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

County councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We’re very proud that Boost has already provided support to 1,000 growth-hungry businesses over the past year. We're already seeing lots of positive results, with job creation and new growth here in Lancashire.

“By using expertise from the public and private sectors, Boost has brought together specialists, who all have a track record of supporting growing businesses. This mix of advice and support is proving to be both useful and successful.”

Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Boost is helping companies with high-growth potential, by giving them the support they need to realise their ambition.

“This is an exciting project - the biggest of its kind for ambitious businesses in Lancashire. Businesses have been getting the right support, which is already acting as a catalyst for growth in the county’s economy.”

South Ribble corporate catering business Moss House Farm Caterers has created two new jobs as a result of the mentoring support it has received from Community & Business Partners as part of the Boost programme.

Meanwhile, Finton Doyle, a start-up accountancy practice based in Preston, has gained HR coaching as part of the Lancashire LEAP programme, as well support from the Growth Skills Assist programme to equip the team with the skills to grow the business.

Phil Bevan, owner of Moss House Farm Caterers, said: “I have certainly felt the benefit of the mentoring programme as it has given me time to step outside the business and look at it with greater objectivity. The systems I have put in place have made it much easier for me to monitor the business and work out a more planned and sustainable approach to growth. I really enjoyed the programme and would recommend it to any business that fits the criteria.”

Kerry Lunt, practice manager at Finton Doyle, said: “As a business that has been trading for less than three years, it is important for us to ensure our HR procedures are up-to-date and that we have the range of skills required to grow our business. Support from Boost Business Lancashire has played a major role in helping us to achieve growth.” Boost Business Lancashire is being delivered through a partnership between Lancashire County Council, Community & Business Partners, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Winning Pitch. £3.6m has been provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).