THE number of firms coming forward to get financial help and advice in the North East has increased significantly since One North East launched the Real Help for Business Now campaign with backing from The Journal.
The awareness-raising campaign designed to signpost companies to Business Link to get help during the downturn has seen a 20% increase in new visitors to the website and saw almost 3,500 people calling the Business Link hotline during the first fortnight of the campaign.
Every day since the start of February, The Journal has carried good news stories about firms getting support to survive and grow and has also featured the new funds being made available by One North East and its partners to aid companies.
Carrying the distinctive Real Help for Business Now strapline stories have ranged from the management buy-out that saved Cheviot Foods in Amble to Henry Cooper Coaches in Northumberland who used Business Link to help them find new work following the loss of a major contract.
One North East chairman Margaret Fay said: “There has never been such as concerted effort by the public sector to provide vital support to businesses and people.
“One North East is investing £46m over the next two years to help them deal with the effects of the recession, in addition to our normal business support activities.
“Making sure businesses know where to get this help is critical, and we have been delighted with the response to the campaign to date and we appreciate the role The Journal has played in highlighting the support available.”
Over the past two months Business Link has also delivered health checks to over 1,500 businesses helping them identify issues and opportunities to help them survive.
Around 400 companies have attended the Business Link Weather the Storm free breakfast seminars that have provided firms with advice on everything from negotiating with their bank manager to budgeting and cash flow.
Funded by One North East, there have been four workshops covering issues such as employment law legal advice and managing cash flow and more events are planned in the future.
Alastair McColl, chief executive of Business and Enterprise North East, which operates the Business Link service said: “The Real Help for Business Now campaign is successfully promoting the range of support measures currently available to the region’s businesses during this challenging time.
“It is crucial that we highlight positive results and success stories and inspire people to safeguard and develop their businesses.
“The campaign is highlighting crucial real support to local business and demonstrates that the North East of England is well equipped to tackle the recession and prosper when conditions improve.”
One North East, LSC, Business Link, Jobcentre Plus and Government Office North East are collaborating to get a clear message of support out to those who need it by advertising the campaign at railway stations, on buses and at sites including Business Link, Jobcentreplus and nextstep offices.