The deadline has arrived for young businesses across Wiltshire to sign up to a major campaign which could give a massive boost to their future prospects.
The Newspaper Society’s Local Business Accelerators (LBA) initiative is being supported by the Wiltshire Times and its sister titles across the Newsquest Wiltshire group for a second year, following its highly successful debut in 2011.
It will see three of the most promising businesses in the region being offered free advertising for a year along with advice and mentoring from top business experts, and the deadline for entries is tomorrow (Friday).
So far the initiative has attracted 1,162 entries nationwide – last year’s total was around 3,100 with most coming through in the final week .
The Newspaper Society has also announced that BT have come on board to offer free business broadband and wifi access for a year, including wireless router and free installation, and the design and management of a website with ecommerce if required, to the overall winner.
So the overall prize package now stands at: l Mentoring from the campaign’s national ambassador Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den l A free ad campaign in their local paper designed by a top London ad agency l A £10,000 cash sum from the Business Growth Fund l One year’s free membership of the CBI l Free business advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales valued at £2,000 l An iPad from Freeagent who are also offering a year’s free access to its accountancy software to each of the national finalists (£300 per finalist) l Free business broadband and wifi access for a year from BT for the overall winner, including wireless router and free installation, and the design and management of a website with ecommerce if required.
LBA represents a national drive worth £15m across more than 500 local and regional newspapers , and again it is being backed by Deborah Meaden, a judge on TV’s Dragons’ Den, with the overall competition winner receiving invaluable mentoring from the entrepreneur.
Last year, the competition in the Wiltshire strand of the LBA was fierce, with three winners being selected who have all benefited from their prizes this year.
The three businesses were Frankly Recruitment of Commercial Road, Swindon, All Angles Ltd, furniture and paint sprayers, of Lushill Farm, Hannington and handbag designers Peony & Moore of Rode.
Lucy Clayphan of Peony & Moore said: “To anyone out there thinking of applying, I’d say give it a go absolutely. If you have a new businesses and are enthusiastic the benefits can be huge.” The regional winners will be selected by representatives from some of Wiltshire’s leading businesses, who will work with Newsquest Wiltshire to shortlist entries and then pick this year’s three winners.
The campaign has been backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King.
Mr Cameron said: “The Local Business Accelerators campaign has provided tremendous support to fledgling businesses across the country and I am delighted it will be running for a second year.
“Local newspapers play a vital role in their communities and are uniquely placed to support small businesses, giving them the boost they need to grow, which is good for local areas and good for the economy as a whole.
“I hope more young businesses put themselves forward over the coming months and get involved with this innovative scheme, which rewards entrepreneurship and creative thinking in business.”