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Lancashire firms’ mission to Number 10 to help small businesses grow

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A delegation of Lancashire entrepreneurs joined Boost on a visit to Downing Street this week to discuss how government can help more small businesses to grow. It was also a chance for Boost, the county’s £7.8m business growth hub, to share some of its #GrowingLancashire success stories at a national level.

The group were invited to London to meet Jimmy McCloughlin, a special adviser to the Prime Minister on business issues. The meeting was brokered by Emma Jones from small business support organisation Enterprise Nation and was attended by 15 other small businesses from across the country.

Andrew Leeming, Boost programme manager, attended alongside Catarina King, co-founder of Preston-based co-working space Society1; Rob Binns, owner of Cotton Court Business Centre; Guy Cookson, partner at Lancaster-based creative agency Hotfoot Design; and Anne Williamson of Lancashire-based consultancy Customer Love Ltd. “It was really important to get Lancashire noticed and share the insight we’ve gained through Boost,” said Andrew Leeming.

“We wanted to get the message across that the support needed by a small company working from a small rented room is immeasurably different from the much larger businesses that central government describes as SMEs. “Often the challenge is how does a brilliant small business with huge potential hire its first employee. These entrepreneurs need the tailored support that can help their businesses grow quickly, create jobs and grow the economy.”

Boost is Lancashire’s £7.8m business growth hub which is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Catarina King, who co-founded Society 1 in Preston in 2017, said: “I feel as a group of four Lancashire businesses we represented our county well. We highlighted the need for infrastructure, assistance for young businesses in taking on employees, as well as ensuring that all areas of the region benefit from the Northern Powerhouse movement.”

Guy Cookson, a co-owner at Hotfoot Design, said: “One of the points I raised is that small towns and cities are just as critical to creating the so-called Northern Powerhouse – Lancaster is one such place. “Some 1,500 people work in the digital, tech and creative sectors in Lancaster. These are well paid highly skilled jobs. And the number is growing year on year. It is not hard to see why Lancaster is well placed to host cutting-edge businesses.”

Robert Binns, owner of Cotton Court, added: “It was a great opportunity to directly speak to the prime minister’s special adviser about how a number of business owners based at Cotton Court feel there is a need to segment the small business category further. “The challenges faced by a company with two employees are significantly different from those with a headcount of over 200 and currently they are viewed and measured in the same way by the UK government.”

Anne Williamson, MD at Customer Love Ltd, added: “The were many similarities between the growth hungry businesses in the room. Their feedback to government reflects the thoughts of many of the businesses I work with each week. It will be great to see some of the points addressed come to fruition”.

Pictured above L-R are Catarina King, Anne Williamson, Andrew Leeming, Robert Binns and Guy Cookson.


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