Business Link Hunts fears prove groundless

FEARS that regionalising the Government s free business advisory service, Business Link, two years ago – when the Huntingdon-based Cambridgeshire service was closed – would marginalise Huntingdonshire seem to have proved groundless. New figures from BL Ea

FEARS that regionalising the Government's free business advisory service, Business Link, two years ago - when the Huntingdon-based Cambridgeshire service was closed - would marginalise Huntingdonshire seem to have proved groundless.

New figures from BL East, which has its headquarters in Hatfield with local advisers across the region, suggest that nearly 2,500 small and medium-sized companies in Huntingdonshire sought help from the organisation in the year to April 2009.

With an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 SMEs operating in the district, that suggests that well over a quarter of them used BLE's mostly-free services during that one year alone.

Almost one-fifth of the organisation's clients in Cambridgeshire are based in Huntingdonshire, and 2,431 of existing companies - new-starts and those established for more than a year - sought expert advice. On top of that, Business Link has also been advising thousands of people contemplating starting their own business.


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Across the six counties of the region BLE supported more than 108,000 local businesses at various stages of their lifecycles, including nearly 80,000 established businesses, more than 4,400 start-up businesses and nearly 25,000 pre-starts.

"In Cambridgeshire alone, 15,075 businesses and entrepreneurs have received impartial advice from Business Link and benefited from the vast and growing range of support services on offer," a spokesman said.

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"Pre-start figures, relating to Cambs-based individuals who are thinking of starting a business and have sought advice from Business Link, are almost at the 4,000 mark.

"Entrepreneurs in the county are evidently standing strong and are not perturbed by the economic downturn. Established businesses (those that have been trading for more than a year) formed two-thirds of Business Link's Cambs-based clients from April 08 to March 09."

Pat Smith, chief executive of Business Link in the East of England says, "It's important for us to remember that the numbers equate to real business people and future entrepreneurs in our region, many of which have come to us for help because of the impact of the economic downturn on their business.

"Our priority for the year ahead is to respond to and meet the needs of our customers, ensuring that our services add value to their business operations and start-up ideas. We remain committed to supporting local companies and helping drive them towards a brighter future."

INFORMATION: For information, practical advice and support to help start, run or grow a business, BLE is on 08457 171615 or log on to www.businesslink.gov.uk/east

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