LANCASTER University is looking for more businesses to take advantage of a county-wide business development programme that is already helping to boost the economy and create jobs.
The Lancashire Forum programme, launched last autumn, has worked with 38 companies to date.
The programme, which forms part of Boost Business Lancashire, has already seen the creation of more than 22 full-time jobs in the county, say organisers.
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Lancaster-based Heritage Homecare, which was established in 2006 and employs more than 200 people, has been able to create more than 16 full-time positions since becoming involved with Lancashire Forum.
Angela Hughes, owner of the adult home healthcare provider, said: “Lancashire Forum has been beneficial to my business because I was able to talk about aspects of my business with people who are in a similar situation and who are facing the same difficulties.
“Since joining the Forum I have taken on lots of new staff, and we are looking to recruit even more. It has given me the energy to push the business forward.”
Lancashire Forum aims to provide growth for 80 SMEs by creating a supportive peer network, as well as running a master-class programme with high-profile inspirational speakers – such as Giles Andrews, founder of successful peer-to-peer lender Zopa; branding expert Rita Clifton, former chairman of Interbrand and former vice chairman and strategy director at Saatchi & Saatchi; Richard Watson, a strategist and future trend analyst; and Jessica Sansom, head of corporate and social responsibility at Innocent Smoothies.
The programme provides a space for owner-managers of Lancashire SMEs to step away from their businesses and develop themselves in a supportive environment with help from peers as well as experts from Small Business Charter Gold Award-winning Lancaster University Management School.
Additional expertise will be brought in to provide help with finance and getting access to grants.
Participating companies will also discover how they can tap into additional resources, such as graduate consultants and internships.
The third Lancashire Forum cohort starts in July and runs for six months.
Kim Ashby, Lancaster University Management School programme manager for Lancashire Forum, said: “We are really pleased to see that Lancashire Forum is already having significant benefits to the economy and employment in the county.
“This programme, which provides access to a network of like-minded businesses and experts, is for forward-thinking SMEs throughout Lancashire and we look forward to helping more businesses to grow and create even more jobs.”
The cost of the two-year £190,000 Lancashire Forum programme, has been funded through the European Regional Development Fund via Boost Business Lancashire.
Businesses interested in enrolling on Lancashire Forum should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01524 510723.
To find out more about Lancashire Forum and Boost Lancashire visit http://www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk/programmes/lancashire-forum.aspx