Chamber moves in to fill the gap for SMEs left by Business Link’s demise

BUDDING entrepreneurs in remote parts of Yorkshire will soon get the help they need to establish a business.

Advisers from Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber will visit rural towns and villages to ensure a void isn’t left by the demise of Business Link Yorkshire. Business Link Yorkshire, a taxpayer-funded business advice service, closed yesterday after being scrapped as part of the Government’s austerity measures. Yesterday, dozens of entrepreneurs attended the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Business Growth Expo at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, where they picked up advice about how to grow their business.

Helen Silverman, head of SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) membership at the chamber, said a series of roadshows for rural communities will hit the road in 2012.

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For example, Chamber staff will visit Scarborough in January and Skipton in March.

“We want to show businesses in rural communities what the chamber can do for them,’’ she said.

Ms Silverman said the chamber had a number of services which had been set up to help growing firms.

She said: “We have a panel of 10 entrepreneurs from the region who give advice to start-ups and growing businesses. There are a series of workshops with mentors and the service has a flat fee of £1,000. Enterprise Yorkshire, which is also part of the chamber, is a publicly funded service for start-up businesses.”

Owen Jackson, a business adviser at Enterprise Yorkshire, said: “We can help people through the initial phases of setting up a business. We work with them on their business plans. It’s a conception to completion service and it’s free. We’ve got four advisers and two business coaches. It’s part of the legacy fund from the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI). It has got funding to last until at least March 2013.”

Mr Jackson, who has a background in the catering industry, said he was hopeful that funding would be found to maintain the service in the long term.

Speakers at the Expo included Todd Hannula, the chief executive of Leeds-based social enterprise Shine, who said businesses should listen to his grandmother’s philosophy: “Follow your passion, and the money will follow you.”