DORSET’S new business support service has been launched with a mission to help recovery and boost jobs.
The Dorset Growth Hub will have government funding to provide grants for businesses with the potential to grow and create employment.
A partner launch at the Lake Yard, Hamworthy, heard how the hub would work.
Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said it would provide a much-needed service to put businesses in touch with expert help.
“In the middle of a recession the government axed the Business Link, which I didn’t think was the best move for businesses, but we’re really starting to see signs of recovery in the business community,” he said.
“I think the growth hub has come along just at the right time.”
The launch heard about the key priorities for the hub:
A ‘one stop shop’ based within DCCI, including a phone advice line for all businesses in the county, and ‘business navigators’ to provide initial one-to-one support.
Growth Through Investment – offering grants from £5,000 to £50,000 to Dorset SMEs that can raise match-funding, on a 3:1 basis so a £5,000 grant could be gi-ven alongside a £15,000 bank loan.
Growth Through Inception – supporting individuals thinking about a business start-up or in the early stages of starting a business.
Growth Through Innovation – grant funding for SMEs that want to commercialise a new product or service, with grants of £5,000-£10,000 to be match funded on a 1:1 basis. There would also be help connecting businesses with potential academic and commercial partners.
Growth Through Internationalisation – grant funding of £5,000-£10,000, on a 1:1 match funding basis, for businesses who want to use design to help access international markets. Hub manager Lucy Cooper said the hub was being funded as part of Wave 2 of the government’s City Deals programmes.
“There were 17 hubs bid for last year and 15 that came to fruition,” she said.
She said the hub had already put its team of specialists in place and had a “soft launch” of its services.
“We also launched our web portal which to date has had 500 unique users with even very low level marketing,” she said.
Mr Girling added: “There’s an emphasis on growth and the big target for the hub is job creation.
“We really see the growth hub as available to all the businesses across all parts of the county with a very strong focus on start-ups.”
The hub brings together training provider WSX Enter-prise, DCCI, Dorset Local Enter-prise Partnership and Bourne-mouth Borough Council with aca-demics from Lancaster University.
Mr Girling said: “This is a ground-breaking partnership in terms of business support.”