Kirklees companies are eager to improve their performance – but many don’t know where to go for the advice and funding they need.
Which is why organisers were delighted with the turnout from local firms to an informal pop-up business event staged at Huddersfield’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.
Experts in areas such as funding for business, marketing and design, export trade, finance, business planning, legal issues and innovation were on hand to offer advice at the event, which was staged under the auspices of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Ramesh Bains, inset, LEP growth manager for Kirklees and one of the experts attending, said there were positive outcomes for many businesses seeking support from the partnership.
“The feedback I am getting is that it’s tough out there,” he said. “A lot of businesses have been hit by the downturn.
“But the businesses I see are still growing. They are looking for opportunities to expand. We have had some really good outcomes.”
Mr Bains said: “We get referrals from MPs, banks, accountants and businesses telling us about other businesses they know. The more we can encourage people to explore the opportunities available to them the better.”
He said by the end of last year, the LEP’s skills fund had distributed £5m to businesses looking to expand, break into new markets, develop new products or services and improve their efficiency. That in turn had created 600 jobs and secured a further £25m of private sector investment.
Mr Bains added: “In a downturn, businesses don’t have the time to do the legwork and look for the opportunities for growth. We have a very good network in Kirklees and that’s something they can use to their advantage.”
Parminder Singh, LEP skills engagement advisor, said there was substantial help available to help firms in Kirklees improve the skills of their workforce.
The service was set up last year to help companies with fewer than 250 staff bridge the skills gap, provide management training for people coming into supervisory or middle management roles and offer leadership training for business owners and directors.
He said: “Firms might see that they can get into a new area of business or expand their existing service, but need some new skills which the people in their organisation don’t currently have.
“Companies often say they want to strengthen management and leadership skills. It may be they need a management training course for someone who has just become a supervisor having never managed people before and who needs some new skills to help them cope with what they encounter in the workplace.
“It may be they need training in the art of delegation or team-building. Or perhaps they need leadership training in terms of charting the direction of the business.
“When a business becomes very successful and grows, you need more structure in place – more people in management roles allowing the leaders to focus on strategy, opportunities and new projects rather than the day-to-day running of the business.
“We can find training providers for them and help them identify the right training for their business.”
The LEP team has also set up a business collaboration network across Kirklees, bringing together companies to work together.
Other experts on hand at the pop-up cafe included Katrina Cliffe, founder of Lindley-based KC Communications; Steve Bradley, of Lockwood-based Pennine Business Partners, Annie Bradley, of UK Trade & Investment; Stewart Leahy, of Marsden-based The Design Mechanics and Steven Holmes, of accountancy firm Armstrong Watson.
For further information on the support and finance available to businesses, phone the LEP business growth team on 0113 348 1818 or email BusinessGrowth@the-lep.com.