New business support service launched for rural Devon and Somerset

bussupp26,000 businesses across rural Devon and Somerset are set to benefit from a new business support service, launched today by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Entitled the Heart of the South West Business Support Service, the package provides a range of options to help businesses grow and develop.  This includes face to face business advice from a team of specialist business advisers; an interactive workshop programme; an innovation programme; specialist support for women’s led enterprises; and a voucher based support programme.

The aim is to create a strong programme of support throughout the HotSW area, which will stimulate business innovation, helping to boost the local economy and increase jobs.

Just under £1m is being invested into the business support programme across Devon and Somerset.  The service is part of the wider Rural Growth Network for Devon and Somerset, which is being led by the HotSW LEP in partnership with Devon and Somerset County Councils.  Funding comes from the Defra sponsored RGN programme as well as Devon County Council , which is providing support for innovation in rural businesses.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Supporting rural businesses is critical to the economy of the Heart of the South West area – this dedicated service is set to make a huge difference by providing a range of tailored business services that are easily accessible.”

The Heart of the South West Business Support service is delivered by Peninsula Enterprise, who has been working with businesses in the South West for over 20 years and has extensive experience of engaging businesses and delivering economic impact through business support.

David Hynd, Head of Rural at Peninsula Enterprise said: “This new service provides the essential advice, knowledge and guidance that rural businesses need to succeed.

“Businesses eligible for the full service will receive an action plan to help them move their business idea forward and put plans into reality, and will be able to access further assistance via a voucher based support programme.”

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth said: “The overall £2.9m RGN investment is expected to boost the rural economy by £40m by providing the opportunities and infrastructure that rural businesses need to grow.”

Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, Councillor David Hall said: “Businesses across the area are set to benefit directly from the range of services that this new support programme will provide, helping our aim to be achieved.”

HotSW is one of just five LEPs selected to deliver a pilot Rural Growth Network, spearheading a national drive to encourage economic growth and enterprise in rural areas.

£2.9m fund was awarded to the Local Enterprise Partnership working in conjunction with Devon and Somerset County Councils.  The Rural Growth Network initiative will run until 2015.

To register your interest to receive support through the service, please visit www.business-supportsw.com.  The website has information about the programme, as well as providing a local, easy to use gateway to other sources of business support.