The spirit of enterprise putting Barnsley on small business map

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Once, Barnsley was marketed as Yorkshire’s little slice of Italy.

The idea of rebranding the town as a Tuscan hill village was suggested by architect Will Alsop, who was hired as a consultant by Barnsley Council.

Today, the town is home to an impressive range of small businesses who are doing their bit to create jobs, and attract investment, during a time of deep economic unease.

Yesterday, it was revealed that a Barnsley-based business support programme has helped to create 161 jobs this year.

The Enterprising Barnsley programme provides free specialist business coaching to Barnsley-based businesses with growth potential. It is delivered by a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA) and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC).

Over the last year, it’s supported businesses like Silver Lady, which captures the British Army’s key “moments in time” in silver, including pieces dedicated to fallen soldiers.

Silver Lady has designed commemorative and presentation pieces for British Army regiments, from coins and tie-pins to grand table centrepieces.

Some have marked tours and campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others have honoured servicemen who have died in conflict. Silver Lady recently created a centrepiece for The Yorkshire Regiment which features an assault rifle and helmet, face-down, and is inscribed with the names of the regiment’s lost heroes.

Managing director Rick Jennings, who regularly travels to Army bases all over the world, said: “It is a source of immense pride to me that a company in Barnsley, not Bond Street, is involved in upholding a military tradition that goes back centuries and honours those who serve their country.”

Another Barnsley technology company is targeting schools, colleges and visitor attractions across the UK with a new product for people with special needs.

Osborne Technologies has designed, developed and refined the SensoryPod and is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley, to market the innovation nationally.

The SensoryPod is a self-contained facility which creates a soothing and stimulating environment. Osborne Technologies’ Kevin Wheatley, who developed the original concept for SensoryPod, said: “The idea of the SensoryPod is that we can customise it to meet each customer’s requirements and our team of engineers can install it anywhere – inside or out – even move it if necessary. It is great way to create a completely inclusive experience with lots of specialist features, where space is at a premium.”

The SensoryPod, which costs between £40,000 and £70,000, is the latest product to be launched by the technology company, which is based on the Fall Bank Industrial Estate at Dodworth. Osborne Technologies sells a wide range of customised IT and audio visual services to education and business sector clients. It has seen its turnover double every year for the last three years.

Its turnover currently stands at £1.8m, and looks set to double again over the next two years.

Enterprising Barnsley offers specialist business coaching in areas including marketing, finance, leadership, IT and branding.

It funds the SmartStart programme of workshops for people thinking of setting up their own business and the Genesis programme of intensive support for new business.

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is supported by the European Union.

The project has attracted £2.26m investment into Barnsley from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s package of support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.