More than 800 Lancashire businesses have been given a major boost by the county’s leading funding hub as its celebrates its first anniversary, latest figures reveal today.
And behind the figures is a growing optimism that the Lancashire economy is on the way back, says Boost Business Lancashire chief Andy Walker.
The county’s £7.2m business growth hub offers a wide range of help and advice to businesses, and can provide vital access to finance.
Launched last June, Boost offers access to a range of free and part-funded support programmes to help ambitious and growing businesses in areas such as leadership, mentoring, innovation, skills and finding the right finance.
It has now helped around 850 companies, nearly 300 of whom are based in central Lancashire.
Boost aims to grow the county’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.
The European Regional Development Fund has provided £3.6m in funding towards Boost which is being delivered by Lancashire County Council and five delivery partners.
Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation for Lancashire County Council, said that Lancashire was one of only eight growth hubs in the country.
More than 800 business had done all or part of the Boost programme in its first year.
He said many firms were encouraged by the support available and were now looking to future growth.
Mr Walker said firms were not simply looking at what was on offer, they were finishing the programme and taking on board the expert advice.
He said: “There is more investment acivity taking place – we are definitely noticing that.
“The main message is that there is a lot of help out there. People should talk to Boost and see what’s available to them.
“They will be surprised at what can be done.”
Boost offers a range of services, some fully funded, some part-funded, including growth mentoring and access to finance.
As well as practical help, Boost can help firms find the right financial help from several funds available to north west SMEs.