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EnergySmall Business Minister chooses Greater Manchester for first visit to a growth...

Small Business Minister chooses Greater Manchester for first visit to a growth hub

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Andrew Griffiths, has visited business support service GC Business Growth Hub in Manchester City Centre.

The Government’s Small Business Minister, Mr Griffiths, met Director of Business Growth Richard Jeffery, and Donna Edwards, Managing Director – Business Support and Business Finance, both from parent company The Growth Company, to discuss the benefits of support from growth hubs for start-ups and SMEs.

Richard and Donna talked about how GC Business Growth Hub has engaged 37,000 businesses and provided support to over 9,000 businesses in Greater Manchester over the last seven years, explaining that for every £1 of support the Hub invests in a start-up or SME, £4.65 is generated for the local economy. The minister also heard how the GC Business Growth Hub, the first of its kind in the UK, has become the template for other business growth hubs across the country.

Following the meeting, Mr Griffiths participated in a roundtable with representatives from seven Greater Manchester companies from a range of sectors which have all received support from the Hub. These included: workwear company Tibard from Dukinfield; urinary disposal and hygiene specialists U-Drain from Bowdon; Stockport clothing supplier Creative Apparel; gasket manufacturer JA Harrison from Middleton; speech and language therapists Speechwise from Stockport; and Manchester cloud-based app developers Shaping Cloud.

In a lively exchange, topics discussed included the key role that SMEs play in the evolving Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy, digitisation to boost productivity, the importance of inclusive growth in building a sustainable, successful economy, closing the productivity gap with the South, and increasing Greater Manchester’s international trade activity.

Earlier in the day, the minister visited GC Business Growth Hub client Seven Brothers brewery in Salford. With support from the Hub, including help sourcing suppliers and guidance on logistics, the brewery has created 15 new jobs in the local area and has doubled its brewing capacity to over 60,000 pints a week. In addition, the company are selling over £50,000-worth of beer each month and is projected to nearly double its year-on-year turnover to £1.5m by the end of 2018.

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth, The Growth Company, commented: “As soon as Andrew Griffiths was appointed in January, I extended a personal invitation to his office, offering him the opportunity to visit and to find out more about the support we provide to businesses across Greater Manchester.

“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to show how innovative approaches to business support are helping entrepreneurs to make their dreams of starting and growing a successful business reality. SMEs are the engine room for the UK economy, and growth hubs like ours are crucial in ensuring today’s SMEs survive and thrive.

“We were also able to talk about some of the work we’re doing across the North, like leading the network of Northern growth hubs to help boost productivity in SMEs across the whole of the region. Andrew Griffiths was particularly interested in our national work, including our mentoring programme that is increasing productivity in the manufacturing sector.”

Martin Shepherd, JA Harrison, commented: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to discuss the issues that really matter to businesses like JA Harrison with the minister. I was proud to sit alongside the other SMEs at the roundtable, talking about how Greater Manchester is leading the way in tackling issues like productivity, skills, and more recently the impact of Brexit.”

Small Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “This Government is fully behind the entrepreneurs delivering jobs, growth and greater choice for consumers. I was pleased to visit the Greater Manchester growth hub to see how it is supporting local SMEs to start up and grow.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, with over 1,000 being created every day across the country, and in the North West supporting nearly 1.3 million jobs and generating revenues of £111 billion. Through our Industrial Strategy, we are building a Britain in which they will continue to thrive.”

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