New Anglia Growth Hub celebrates successful first year

The New Anglia Growth Hub team, including its business growth advisers who offer free support to bus

The New Anglia Growth Hub team, including its business growth advisers who offer free support to businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

New Anglia Growth Hub has beaten its target of providing support for 3,000 businesses in its first year.

The hub, delivered on behalf of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, offers firms across Suffolk and Norfolk access to free face-to-face support from a team of 10 business growth advisers,

It was launched at the Suffolk Show last year and will celebrate its first anniversary on the second day of this year’s show, on Thursday.

Besides its network of growth advisers, the hub also operates an online information portal and telephone helpline, provides support to businesses in accessing faster broadband and acts as a first point of contact for grant applications.

In engaging with more than 3,000 businesses during its first 12 months, the hub has provided more than 10,000 hours of face-to-face support.

It has also made nearly 2,000 referrals to other support providers including national organisations such as UK Trade & Investment, the Manufacturing Advisory Service and Growth Accelerator as well as more than 60 local bodies including Eastern Enterprise Hub, Menta, Nwes and Innovation Martlesham.

In addition, the LEP’s flagship Growing Business Fund, which provides grants of up to £500,000 for companies to expand and grow, has so far awarded grants to 93 businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk and is set to create 1,173 jobs.

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New Anglia LEP chairman Mark Pendlington said: “From the budding entrepreneur with the spark of a great idea to established enterprises looking to invest and develop their business, our growth hub puts expert advisers on the ground to give bespoke support on everything from grant funding and broadband vouchers to tax rebates and sector specific guidance.

“Over 3,000 businesses have engaged with the service in just one year, which just shows what a vital service this is for SMEs, who are the lifeblood of our growing and vibrant economy. This is a great start, but just the beginning of what we can achieve in the future.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, added: “We are delighted to be working with New Anglia LEP to be the delivery partner of the growth hub.

“The hub is proving to be a truly invaluable grass-rooted business support service, ensuring that all those who engage are given the access to the appropriate local and national business support products and services, therefore aiding economic growth and development.

“We look forward to working with the LEP and partners to embed this invaluable resource, long term, into the Norfolk and Suffolk business support service.”