Small businesses asked to help shape LEP's new digital Growth Hub plans

FSB and Digital Leaders North to host workshop in Newcastle to guage views and needs of businesses for new regional initiative

FSB North East regional chairman Ted Salmon
FSB North East regional chairman Ted Salmon

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) is calling on small businesses to help shape its soon-to-be-launched regional Growth Hub,

The new digital service, which forms part of the LEP’s Strategic Economic plan, is being set up to help businesses of all kinds access the information they need to invest, grow and develop.

Established with £500,000 backing from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, the initiative places a strong emphasis on collaboration and peer-to-peer networks, and is being developed by a consortium of partners with specialist expertise in technology, design and business support.

Central to the Hub’s success will be the involvement of the North East business community, which is being asked to help shape a collaborative and demand-led environment.

To understand the needs of individual businesses, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the region has teamed up with Digital Leaders North East to host a workshop next Monday (20th) between 2pm and 4.30pm at Watson Burton in Newcastle.

Small businesses who are currently struggling to find the right support, or have ambitions to develop and grow, are particularly encouraged to attend.

Ted Salmon, North East regional chairman, for the FSB said: “Small businesses are at the heart of the North East economy.

“It is critical that they get the right support at the right time to help them grow and flourish.

“Working with Digital Leaders North East we will help shape how the new Growth Hub can meet these ambitions across the North East LEP area.”

To help deliver the new Hub, the LEP has brought on board a group of North East firms, including the Gateshead-based support publishers Cobweb Information, which will curate content and The Roundhouse, a Newcastle-based design and digital consultancy that will design its interface.

Taking the lead on the project is software specialist Escher Group, whose head of operations for the North East, Steve Blanks, has been appointed partnership director for the consortium.

“We want to develop a digital space that is more than just a signposting tool, but an ecosystem that will survive political lifecycles to continually support any type of business in the region that has ambitions to grow or develop,” he said.

“The workshop will provide a platform for businesses to have their say and influence how the Growth Hub can work for them.”

The event will also provide an opportunity for businesses to get some early insights into the design and vision for the new Growth Hub.

Spaces are limited, so those wishing to attend should email Simon.Hanson@fsb.org.uk or steve.blanks@eschergroup.com

Businesses unable to attend, but which would still like to contribute to the Growth Hubs’ development, can also register on the LEP’s Expression of Interest webpage at http://negrowthhub.cobwebinfo.com/

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