Business support beats targets

THE East of England Development Agency has praised the “tremendous progress” made by a business support service which is celebrating after beating its first year targets.

THE East of England Development Agency has praised the “tremendous progress” made by a business support service which is celebrating after beating its first year targets.

Business Link East, a regional body which came into operation in April 2007 after taking over the role from a range of county-based organisations, says it has engaged 98,860 local businesses in its first year, exceeding its target of 95,535.

Overall it has served 27,633 pre-start companies, 4,939 new start businesses and 66,288 established businesses, it says.

In Suffolk, it supported 11,637 companies, a 19% increase in the total number of businesses supported by Business Link East. Pre-start figures, for individuals thinking of starting a business, saw the greatest rise at 117% on the previous year.


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Business Link chief executive Pat Smith said in their first year of operation, they had “considerably improved” the business support landscape across the region.

“With the creation of the new Business Link Service, our key objective was to strengthen and improve the range of free services available to established and new-start enterprises in the East of England,” he said.

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“We changed how we work by moving from a deliverer to a provider of impartial business information and advice, combined with acting as a broker of third party solutions providers.”

He added: “In the whole period from April 2007 to March 2008, we actually delivered just under a quarter of a million services to nearly 100,000 individual customers. Living proof that we are making a reality of our vision for Business Link to be the place to go for business support.”

East of England Development Agency (EEDA) chairman Richard Ellis said they had set “ambitious and stretching targets” to ensure the service delivered EEDA's vision for a new and improved service and operate in a way that positioned the organisation as the number one port of call fro businesses seeking advice.

“These figures really do pay testament to the tremendous progress the Business Link East team have made in its first 12 months in delivering the new and improved service,” he said.

Over the period, the organisation developed 5,425 in-depth relationships with firms in the region, 816 of which were Suffolk-based. Its start-up workshops were attended by 13,710 delegates, and 54% of its start-up workshop participants were women. It took 6,596 email enquiries and 56,137 phone calls about business support.

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