A business support programme set up in 2012 has helped to create or safeguard 7,000 jobs.
Cumbria Business Growth Hub was established by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and its partners to fill the void left by the demise of the national Business Link network.
It has succeeded beyond all expectations working with 7,200 business – delivering intensive support to 2,200 – so boosting the county’s economy by an estimated £300m.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “To have created or safeguarded 7,000 jobs is a milestone worth shouting about.
“The Growth Hub focuses on working with Cumbrian businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to help them operate more effectively, increase their productivity and maximise profits.
“I’d encourage anyone running a business in our county, or thinking of starting, to get in touch and find out more about the great support on offer. We’re here to help you.”
The Growth Hub started in Cumbria but, because it was so successful, the Government adopted it as the model for business support across the country.
Businesses can call on a team of experienced advisers who work one-to-one with them. They include specialists in ICT, marketing, human resources and finance.
Suzanne said: “Advisers can help with grant applications and refer clients to initiatives run by the Growth Hub or others.”
These initiatives include the BSUS programme for start-ups and the Subsidy Scheme, which offers grants to defray part of the cost of buying-in specialist consultancy.
The Growth Hub also delivers New Enterprise Allowance, a scheme to help unemployed people start a business.
There is help for exporters and businesses looking to innovate while the Supply Chain Gateway helps smaller businesses win contracts with large companies and the public sector.
The Growth Hub website – www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk – boasts 137,000 users and has tools to help businesses apply for loans and search for grants. They can also access webinars.
Many of the Growth Hub’s services are free to eligible businesses thanks to funding from the Chamber, its partners, and government and EU funding.
Suzanne added: “We couldn’t have achieved this success without our partners, from government departments to local authorities, the University of Cumbria, Cumbria LEP, Lancaster University, training providers such as Gen2 and SP Training, and the county’s further education colleges.”