Strategy to tackle district’s brain drain

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A NEW business support scheme has been unveiled in Harrogate to promote the district’s next generation of entrepreneurs and prevent an alarming “brain drain” of young talent.

Harrogate Borough Council has launched the free business support and mentoring service in partnership with Harrogate College to help small start-up companies weather the current economic crisis.

It is part of a wider strategy within the council to halt a worrying number of young people leaving the town to go to university and not coming back.

A 2010 study found more than 70 per cent of 18-year-olds leave Harrogate for further education and never return.

The new scheme is designed to offer free support and mentoring to local businesses which have been trading for up to three years or for those wishing to set up a new business.

Coun Richard Cooper, the council’s cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, said: “The aim of everything we are doing in the economic development remit is to encourage people to move here, stay here and grow here.

“The council always looks at new and innovative ways of providing support for businesses –particularly small businesses and start-ups.

“This joint initiative with Harrogate College provides that support and will help us remove those barriers to businesses starting here, moving here and growing here.”

The scheme will be led by mentor Nigel Dakin, who has worked with more than 100 start-up businesses in recent years.

“I am keen to share my experiences and knowledge with others,” he said.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work as part of this joint initiative in a role where I can engage with the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

To book a free one-to-one appointment email: enterprisegateway@harrogate.ac.uk