Entrepreneurial Cumbrians continue to start and grow businesses, despite gloomy economic forecasts and political uncertainty.
New figures show that Cumbria Business Growth Hub assisted more than 70 people looking to go into business in the three months to September 2019, leading to 12 business launches with more in the pipeline.
The Growth Hub also helped more than 100 existing businesses with plans to expand and made 81 grants under its Subsidy Scheme, which awards businesses up to £4,000 to buy-in consultancy to help them start or grow.
Since April, the Growth Hub has supported in excess of 250 potential start-ups and young businesses, and more than 200 established businesses with growth plans.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “It’s great to see so many new businesses being launched and existing businesses expanding.
“Especially so given the narrative in the media around a slowing economy and the continued Brexit saga.
“The reality is that challenging times create opportunities. So if you can see an opportunity, go for it – and remember the Growth Hub is here to help you make a success of it.”
The Growth Hub is a one-stop shop for business support, much of it free thanks to funding from the Chamber and its partners including South Lakeland District and Carlisle City Councils, Sellafield Ltd., Lancaster University and the European Regional Development Fund.
Start-up activity was strongest in Carlisle, while South Lakeland had the highest number of expanding businesses.
Councillor Paul Nedved, the Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise and Housing at Carlisle City Council, said: “Carlisle is a growing city and we’re keen to support new and existing businesses.
“We want to encourage investment in Carlisle and are delighted that the Growth Hub is helping to boost local businesses.”
Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure on South Lakeland District Council, added: “South Lakeland has the fastest-growing economy in Cumbria and one of the most vibrant economies in the North West.
“To sustain that growth we have to nurture new and growing businesses, which is why we’re working closely with the Growth Hub to ensure these businesses get the support they need.”
And Gary McKeating, Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd, said: “Encouraging entrepreneurialism is a key element of our social impact strategy.
“Small businesses help to provide the diversity and sustainability our economy needs to thrive in the long-term.
“It’s great to see so many people launching their own businesses, despite the difficult environment.”
Support through the Growth Hub includes one-to-one business reviews and advice from expert advisers for existing businesses and potential start-ups, as well as consultancy subsidies and free training from a three-day start-up course to management development and marketing strategy.
The offer also includes Cumbria Forum, run by Lancaster University Management School, which helps business people to hone their management and leadership skills.
A key role of the Growth Hub is to promote and link businesses into the range of other support available, whoever delivers it.
Listen to Suzanne Caldwell talking about the role of the Growth Hub to Ben Maeder on BBC Radio Cumbria:
The Growth is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. More information here.