The Marches Step Up Programme, which provides coaching and mentoring for aspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses, is being boosted by an extra £303,000 injection from the European Regional Development Fund.
Managed by Telford & Wrekin Council, on behalf of its partners Herefordshire Council and Shropshire Council, Step Up has already successfully supported 400 new enterprises across the region during its first phase.
The three councils are all part of the Marches Growth Hub, the business support service for the region, and the programme is delivered by business coaching experts Good2Great in Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire and IBD Business Advice Group in Herefordshire.
Councillor David Wright, cabinet member for economy, housing, transport and infrastructure at Telford & Wrekin, said: “We are delighted to have already supported a number of businesses as part of the programme both here in Telford and Wrekin and across the Marches with the help of our key delivery partners.
“The Step Up programme will continue to provide vital support, especially since we have seen a marked increase in start-up enquiries during the pandemic.
“It will also provide bespoke coaching and mentoring to growth businesses as they navigate opportunities and challenges as the economy recovers.
“It is encouraging to see a substantial proportion of new businesses registering themselves on the back of the support we can provide, this creates a promising outlook for the borough and the wider Marches region, something we are incredibly proud of.”
The first phase of the programme provided mentoring to 246 aspiring entrepreneurs and offered support to 151 small and medium-sized businesses, including several new start-ups.
This has helped in the creation of 69 new jobs and 74 new businesses, with a further 85 businesses looking to start. The extension of the programme, to at least March 31, 2023, brings the total funding support to £1,041,620.
Entrepreneur Nick Abel launched a new digital scanning business ‘Scanix’ thanks to the Step Up programme.
He said: “I now feel confident and ready to tackle any obstacle that I may face in my journey as a new business start-up thanks to the Marches Step Up programme.
“Being with other new business owners was great as it gave me the opportunity to interact with others going through the same process. Regular breakout rooms gave me the chance to talk to others - I also made valuable contacts and some great new friends.
“Scanix can scan anything from a bungalow to a bridge to deliver a digital twin of any scanned building or space with incredible detail. The scans can then be navigated by virtual flythroughs or drafted to create highly accurate 2D/3Dbuilding. This is an incredibly powerful and super accurate tool when used for heritage, renovation or restoration applications where no plans or building data exist, often saving time and money.”
Action planning and business workshops are aimed at developing the skills and knowledge needed to start a successful enterprise. These include how to exploit business opportunities, finance, and business planning, selling, marketing and legal considerations.
Step Up to Growth targets both newly trading businesses – those that have been trading for less than 12 months – and established or growing businesses. It aims to help businesses improve innovation, address efficiency or productivity or follow growth strategies through tailored coaching and mentoring.
For more about the scheme and details of how to register for support, visit marchesgrowthhub.co.uk/step-up