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Suffolk Coastal: Recruitment difficulties ‘a major barrier to growth’ for SMEs

06:00 07 February 2014

Jenny Stockman.

Jenny Stockman.

Archant

Difficulty recruiting good staff locally is one of the main barriers to growth for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to a study of businesses in Suffolk Coastal.

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A survey found widespread desire for rural economic growth among VAT registered firms in the district, which at last count numbered 4,760, compared to 3,035 Ipswich borough.

But business leaders stressed the need for greater acknowledgement and attention on SMEs to overcome barriers like access to finance, ability to recruit good staff locally, and availability of high speed broadband.

Jenny Stockman, chairman of Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative (HCMTI), which conducted the survey, said that with the introduction of New Anglia LEP’s Growth Fund, and the Growth Hubs being facilitated by the ‘City Deal’, there was hope of addressing the issues.

Funding worth £3.9m, secured through the City Deal, will be used to help create a Growth Hub service in 2014, with the aim of providing better access to national and local support for rural and urban businesses and entrepreneurs across Suffolk and Norfolk. It is hoped that more than 1,000 businesses will receive support, and that more than 200 new start-ups will be created in the two counties.

Mrs Stockman said: “Growing the economy in Suffolk depends upon the prosperity and growth of our businesses. To help them grow sustainably, be more resilient and capitalise upon opportunities to expand, existing businesses and potential entrepreneurs need access to the right kind of advice and support.”

Business support has been identified as one of the main enablers of growth in Suffolk, along with development of a local skills system that is responsive to employers’ needs.

HCMTI, Suffolk Business Hub, business associations and sites like Framlingham Technology Centre are working with partners to deliver training, influence broadband delivery, promote apprenticeships, source finance and facilitate networking.

The Suffolk Business Hub’s free Ready for Business event, at Framlingham Technology Centre on March 21, is set to bring together support providers who will have a leading role in establishing and operating the Growth Hub. More details at suffolkbusinesshub.co.uk.

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