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East Anglia: Suffolk Chamber to manage New Anglia LEP’s Norfolk and Suffolk Growth Hub

PUBLISHED: 15:37 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:08 12 March 2014

Peter Funnell, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Funnell, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

An agreement has been reached for Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to manage the Norfolk and Suffolk Growth Hub which is being established by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The hub, to be created using finance from the Government’s Regional Growth fund, aims to provide businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk with a “no wrong door” route for accessing local and national business support, to ensure firms across the two counties are able to make full use of the help available.

It will provide a first point of contact for any business seeking business support and assistance, providing easier access to a full range of local and national business support schemes and initiatives including direct access to a number of new programmes.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the LEP, Suffolk Chamber, and Suffolk County Council, the chamber will be responsible for the management of the growth hub.

Other elements will be delivered by organisations including Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, enterprise agencies NWES and MENTA, Finance East, the University of East Anglia, University Campus Suffolk and Norwich University for the Arts.

The growth hub is also being supported by other partners, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the Eastern Enterprise Hub and local authorities within the two counties.

Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “We know that business support is complex and often businesses aren’t able to find the help and support they require. Our aim is to break down the barriers caused by this uncertainty and guide businesses to help and support to enable them grow to their full potential.”

Peter Funnell, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The main barrier to businesses small and large taking up business advice and support is that the business community often finds the current landscape complex, opaque and difficult to engage with.

“The chambers in Suffolk and Norfolk, and all our partners including NWES, Menta, the Eastern Enterprise Hub, FSB and IoD, will introduce a ‘no wrong door’ service that will improve access and at the same time broaden the range of services on offer.

“This is the grass-rooted support that businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk need and we are delighted to be leading such an exciting initiative working with our key partners.”

Chris Soule, policy lead in East Anglia for the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “The programme will bring real and tangible support to our members and will transform this region. The growth fund is for people like our members, it is about government putting its trust in small and medium businesses to deliver where others have failed.”

Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “Nationally, less than 50% of SMEs seek advice, but those that do are twice as likely to grow.

“The provision and promotion of business support programmes that help local businesses to thrive is therefore a vital part of supporting our economy to grow. The securing of this funding will help to enhance and coordinate business support across Suffolk and Norfolk, helping businesses to access the most effective support to help them grow and create jobs.”

David Ellsmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “This is very welcome news. The success of our City Deal bid has enabled the creation of a Growth Hub for Ipswich and the surrounding area which complements the work the Council is doing with its own business support programmes through the Jobs & Skills Fund, Apprenticeship Brokerage and other schemes.”

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