THREE of Fenland’s top business heads have teamed with the Citizen to offer their expertise as part of a new initiative launched today to give a major boost to the area’s promising fledgling businesses.
The Citizen is one of around 500 newspapers countrywide who have signed up to give away up to three months of free advertising.
As well as this, there will be a programme of dedicated business mentoring by our top team of Jaqui Fairfax, who is the managing director of March-based business, Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd; Clive Gibbon, Fenland District Council’s economic development manager and Keith Giltname, commercial relationship manager with Lloyds Bank in Wisbech.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Newspaper Society and sees regional and local newspapers pledging a combined total of £15 million worth of free advertising.
The initiative is called Local Business Accelerators (LBA) and is aimed at businesses which are one to three years-old.
Local Business Accelerators is looking for businesses which are active in the community and full of potential.
You may have a great idea or product, or even found a new market. You may be creating new jobs or pride in your community. Whatever your line of business, this initiative could be the boost you need.
Does your business fit the bill and would you benefit from an advertising campaign in the Citizen along with help from our mentoring team?
If so enter now but don’t delay because entries are only open until November 14 and are online only.
To enter or find out more, visit www.accelerateme.co.uk You can also enter through the Citizen’s website: www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/accelerateme Prime Minister David Cameron is backing the initiative, as is Dragons’ Den judge, Deborah Meaden.
Said Mr Cameron: “The Local Business Accelerators campaign will help provide the boost that our smaller British businesses need right now. By joining forces to launch this excellent initiative, local newspapers are demonstrating their commitment and providing exactly the sort of practical, hands-on support that will help young local businesses succeed and grow.”
Deborah Meaden is the LBA national ambassador and one lucky business will be picked from the hundreds of regional winners to get individual mentoring sessions from Deborah for a year.
She said: “I’ve seen the unique contribution that local press makes to the success of local businesses time and again with my own ventures.
“In this age of enterprise it has never been more important to drive awareness about the value of local marketing for a fledgling business, which is why I’m so proud to support Local Business Accelerators and help build thriving and industrious communities.”
Our mentors, along with David Dixon, publishing director of Anglia Newspapers, and Sue Irving, the Citizen’s deputy editor, will judge, review and short list entries before awarding up to three lucky local businesses with the prize of free advertising and business advice.
They’ll also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.
Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press.
“No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like Local Business Accelerators.
“It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.”
• FENLAND is a hotbed of innovation and enterprise, according to Fenland District Council’s Clive Gibbon.
As the council’s economic development manager, he is involved in encouraging new business in the area and working with existing businesses to develop economic growth in the region.
Clive is also committed to improving the chances for young people and improving links between businesses and schools, working with the 14-19 Partnership.
He said: “From a local authority point of view, we need to be supporting businesses. It’s the way forward.”
Clive, who is 45, has worked in a variety of different business areas over the years, from a video retailer to Christie’s Auction House. He then worked for the Department of Trade and Industry as their European Operations Manager before moving into the world of district councils.
Coming to Fenland was a change of pace for Clive, who had previously been working in Buckinghamshire, but he said there are a lot of innovators in Fenland and many interesting businesses.
His work is about making connections and creating opportunities and Clive believes he can help a local business do just that.
• EVERY day Keith Giltname talks to businesses and works out how he can help them achieve their goals. Now he is prepared to help our winners do the same.
In his role as commercial relationship manager for Lloyds TSB, Keith has a customer base of around 150 businesses, working with them and advising them how the bank can help.
He has amassed a huge amount of business knowledge in his role that he is hoping he can use to help the winners.
Whether it be how to reach a new market or what avenue to go down to expand, Keith is confident he can help.
He said: “I would like to think there’s not a question I can be asked that I haven’t come across before.
“I’m looking forward to being involved with the businesses and helping them to achieve their ambitions.”
Over the past 25 years, Keith has worked his way through the ranks after starting in the bank at the tender age of 17. He has turned his hand to most positions in Lloyds, including branch manager.
He started his career in Surrey before moving to King’s Lynn in 2002 and Wisbech in 2009.
Keith lives just outside Spalding with his wife of 11 years, Nikki, and their two sons, aged nine and seven.
• SUCCESSFUL businesswoman Jaqui Fairfax has a wealth of experience ready to help accelerate your business.
Jaqui is the managing director of the award-winning business, Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd based at Dartford Road, March.
This is a family-run business established in 1994. It is an energy and utility consultancy with excellent customer service.
Jaqui has a team of 22 members of staff, ten of which are on the firm’s very successful apprenticeship programme.
The firm boasts national awards for their apprenticeship service and training as well as Fenland Business Awards.
Jaqui, who is looking forward to judging the Local Business Accelerator entries, is a qualified accountant. She is passionate about business and said: “I have worked in many different industries and I am able to understand the opportunities, issues and challenges they bring.
“As chair of the Fenland Chamber of Commerce, I am lobbying for measures to support local enterprises and to bring forward ideas to kick-start the change process.”
As Regional Ambassador for the National Apprenticeship Service, she has access to information, resources and contacts. She is also a governor of the College of West Anglia.