Google provides digital boost for region’s economy

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
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INTERNET giant Google will open a “Digital Garage” in Yorkshire as part of a nationwide initiative to help small businesses grow.

Google hopes the UK-wide scheme will enable 200,000 British entrepreneurs to achieve their potential through the smart use of technology.

To kick-off the project, Google is establishing The Leeds Garage, a “pop-up” space based in Leeds Dock, which will open its doors on March 30 as part of a six month pilot initiative.

Businesses are invited to get a digital ‘tune-up’ and participate in masterclasses based on Google’s own expertise.

The initiative is supported by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who said: “It’s really important small businesses here in West Yorkshire can compete in the digital age.

“So it’s fantastic to see a project like The Digital Garage bringing digital skills to small businesses across our region.

“All the evidence shows that businesses with a strong online presence grow faster and generate new jobs more quickly.

“So this programme is not only good for local businesses individually but will also be a real benefit for the local and regional economy.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. But many have had a tough time of it in recent years and we need to do more to support them.”

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “We want to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. Through our Do More Online campaign we are equipping small businesses with the digital skills they need to thrive.”

Eileen Naughton, Google’s managing director for UK and Ireland said: “While the majority of UK small businesses recognise the importance of having a website and using basic digital tools, less than 30 per cent of SMEs have an effective online presence. We want to help jump start the other 70 per cent.”

Google.org will also invest in computer science training for more than 25,000 teachers in partnership with Code Club Pro, Computing at Schools (CAS) and Raspberry Pi.