Local Business Accelerators: Deborah Meaden backs regional media initiative

DRAGONS’ Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden is backing a campaign involving local and regional newspapers across the country, including the East Anglian Daily Times, to deliver a boost to promising young businesses.

The Local Business Accelerators initiative, which is being staged for the second time this year following a successful launch in 2011, aims to highlight how local newspapers can assist businesses in achieving their growth objectives.

Also backing Local Business Accelerators, to which more than 500 daily or weekly local and regional titles have signed up, are figures including Prime Minister David Cameron, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King and CBI director general John Cridland.

New research published alongside today’s launch of Local Business Accelerators 2012 reveals that young businesses in Britain – classed as those which have been operating for between one and five years – are positive about their prospects for growth despite the tough economic climate but recognise that they need help and support.

The study, conducted by Toluna for the Newspaper Society, the industry body representing Britain’s local and regional media which is co-ordinating Local Business Accelerators, found that more than a third of young businesses (35%) expect to grow in the next 12 months.

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Most (53%) expect their businesses to continue to perform at the same level and only one in eight (12%) expect a decline. They cited high rent and rates, sluggish consumer demand, access to affordable finance and access to advice as the biggest barriers facing local businesses.

Owners were most likely to use local newspapers to advertise their businesses (22%), followed by internet advertising (15%) and directories (14%). Local newspapers were cited as the most effective of all forms of advertising (49%), followed by outdoor/point of sale (48%), and internet (45%).

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Local Business Accelerators (LBA) offers businesses between one and five years old the chance to win a free advertising campaign in their local newspaper plus mentoring support from local business experts.

The most promising businesses will go forward to a national round of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.

Deborah Meaden, national ambassador for Local Business Accelerators, said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.

“The campaign provided tangible examples of the real contribution that local newspapers can provide to young businesses across many different sectors, accelerating their development.

“Enterprise and entrepreneurism in the local community is more important than ever before and I look forward to finding another young business to mentor and drive forward.”

Last year’s overall LBA winner, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire, which is currently receiving mentoring support from Deborah, saw its orders in Leeds double as a result of the free LBA ad campaign in its local paper and the business has expanded to take on two new employees since taking part in the initiative.

Adrian Jeakings, president of the Newspaper Society and chief executive of community media group Archant, whose titles include the EADT, said: “The inaugural Local Business Accelerators campaign was a resounding success and this year it is going to be even bigger and better.

“LBA demonstrated that local newspapers have a unique ability to deliver a real boost to local businesses, energising and invigorating local economies as they do so.”

He added: “Local press and local business have been partners for decades and LBA aims to foster and develop that trusted relationship for the good of both parties. You only need to look at the successes experienced by last year’s participating newspapers and their partner businesses to gain an understanding of this.”

: : Businesses aged between one and five years can enter the Local Business Accelerators competition in their local newspaper via the LBA hub at www.accelerateme.co.uk . The closing date for entries is November 16.

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