North East Lincolnshire Council has just been awarded a prestigious national award after winning the best in region in England for its support for the local small business community.
North East Lincolnshire Council was among 250 councils in England who entered the inaugural Local Government awards run by Britain’s biggest business representation group, and it emerged triumphant in the ‘All Round, Small Business Friendly’ category.
Local authorities from across England responded to the call when FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) launched their inaugural Local Government awards sponsored by Maybe*, which were aimed at celebrating and recognising those that had made the biggest impact on local SMEs during the Covid crisis and beyond.
Over the last few years, North East Lincolnshire Council has led a new approach to providing a comprehensive business support offer to small and medium enterprises, catering to varied needs of small business.
Paula Gouldthorpe, FSB Development Manager for South Yorkshire and the Humber said “It is really pleasing to see North East Lincolnshire Council rewarded for their consistent hard work and effort to help businesses through what has been a very challenging couple of years. This was amid a high-quality field of entries by local councils! “Both the quality and quantity of entries from this region and beyond was incredibly high so the Council, its teams and individuals involved in supporting the business community should feel very proud to be among the winners. We look forward to continuing to work with them – and all our other business-supporting councils – to ensure we have a vibrant and strong local small business community.”
Cllr Philip Jackson, leader of the Council, said: “Small businesses are the real lifeblood of our local economy, with more than 95% of all businesses in North East Lincolnshire employing under 49 people. This award is testament to the great work that many people put in and to the partnership and collaboration across our borough.”
In its round up, the FSB praised the joint approach to supporting small and medium enterprises and said that the collegiate, holistic approach has been transformational and created an environment conducive to long term success for local businesses.
Projects highlighted included business workshops and events, business festivals, sector specific Business Growth Advisors, start-up programmes, managed and coworking spaces an Investment Hub and access to Business Investment Advisors.
In recent years, a range of support for our small businesses has been put in place with partners, that includes:
e- Factor: A local, not-for-profit social enterprise founded in 2010, offering business workshops, business events such as the ‘Great Big Small Business Festival’, tailored 1-1 support via sector-specific Business Growth Advisors, and important programmes such as Smarter Energy NEL, and the Start Up Academy Programme launched in 2021 which provides a comprehensive 12-month support programme for new businesses.
Investment Hub: A unique service created in 2016, this small team has a combined 100 years’ background in finance. They put businesses in contact with commercial lenders including banks, finance companies, gap funders and peer to peer lenders to help their business move forward. The team invests their time and knowledge in supporting local, small businesses to achieve their goals, for example, Hub Advisors will attend and support business owners in-person when they speak to commercial lenders.
Business Investment Advisors: Business Investment Advisors provide a set 12-week programme to small business owners to access £1,000 in funding for specialist support. They know that the needs and circumstances of every business is unique, and they find creative solutions to support businesses to achieve their goals
The council’s economy and growth team: With access to information about commercial property being offered to market we are able to match this with local business needs and requirements and present tailored property portfolios of available land/property that matches their specification. Our InvestNEL website offers businesses a raft of information, and we offer regular newsletter updates on activities and opportunities for local business.
The Council also runs a number of Business Centres, ideal for small and micro businesses across the borough.
Vikki Wilson, who manages the Council’s business centres, said: “In a place like ours with so many small businesses thrive, it’s easy to see why Business Centres are popular. Their flexibility of office sizes, provision of communal facilities and opportunities to collaborate with other small businesses make them a compelling choice of workplace.
“With break-out rooms and conferencing facilities for up to 64 people on-site, locations like the Innovation Centre on Grimsby’s Europarc make the high-quality workspaces and services associated with big corporations accessible for the area’s many micro-businesses.”