Staffordshire Enterprise Board Blog

Supporting the Chamber in promoting enterprise

A blog by Jeremy Lefroy

Chair of Staffordshire Enterprise Board

The Staffordshire Enterprise Board was formed in 2020, in part to take on the work of Stafford Enterprise which had supported new enterprise in Stafford Borough for around 30 years.

The brief was widened to cover the whole of the County and City, to support Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and other organisations, in activities which create new jobs and encourage people to start up a new enterprise.

The Chambers have never had more resources to help people who are starting a new business venture than they do now. There are four specialist business start-up advisors branded as Staffordshire START. Staffordshire County Council is also partnering with the Chambers, offering 12-month interest free loans of up to £5000 to businesses fulfilling the criteria.

In a drive to promote self-employment opportunities for young people, the Staffordshire Student Start-up Programme was launched in January. Delivered by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, and funded by Staffordshire County Council, it is a new programme of free advice, mentoring and support for post-18 FE students looking to set up their own business.

For more information on all the above schemes for business start-ups here: https://bit.ly/2DwJzsu

Both our universities are represented on the Board and are a great support. Staffordshire University have their own start-up programme ( https://bit.ly/2QWpjY7), which has helped more than 170 businesses to start up in the past five years. Keele University offers internships for graduates (https://bit.ly/3aFeiB8) from any university to find out more about a career or type of organisation and provide them with experience vital for their CVs. It also gives employers the opportunity to test out both the candidate and a potential role within their company.

The availability of finance for start-ups can make or break a potential new business idea. Sourcing more non-debt finance is another of the group’s priorities. The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub, https://bit.ly/3aB2cco, based at the Chamber, provides up to date advice and guidance on current grant funding and loans. We also have close links with venture capital providers such as BCRS (https://bit.ly/3aB2cco), Midven (Midven) and Michelin Development (https://bit.ly/3eu2Rh3).

The Government’s Kickstart Scheme offers fully funded six-month work placements for 18–24-year-olds up to the end of 2022. The Chamber is a conduit for the scheme which is administered by Job Centre Plus and the DWP. There has been a tremendous response so far with 1500 vacancies on offer in the City and County, around 800 applications advertised and over 150 places filled. More information: Kickstart – Staffordshire Chambers

Improving skills is a top priority. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub headed by Suzanne Quinn, have done fine work with hundreds of Staffordshire businesses, facilitating training relevant to each organisation, and providing significant funding to offset costs. More information: https://bit.ly/3xo5f1s

We invite a guest speaker to each forum meeting and at the last meeting our guest speaker was Faye Williams from the Community Foundation for Staffordshire. Faye talked about UN Sustainability goals and how we can promote them amongst businesses.

This is an overview of the activities encouraged and supported by the Staffordshire Enterprise Board. In the coming months, we will go into more detail on each of them. I am very grateful to the team at the Chambers, led by Sara Williams and Tom Nadin, without whom this work would not be possible.

If you would like to know more, and if you would consider joining us to support enterprise in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, please email me: jjelefroy@gmail.com

If you want to talk about any business issues, you can call the Chambers switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

To join the Forum discussion click here Hot Topics — Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

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