Companies on Aycliffe Business Park are being urged to get involved in a survey which will help to form a new programme of workshops designed to help businesses grow.
Business Durham – the economic development organisation working on behalf of Durham County Council – is supporting Aycliffe Business Park Community’s plans to create a series of growth workshops throughout 2018.
To help deliver them, a short online survey has been created for businesses to fill in, which only takes a couple of minutes to complete.
The survey is being headed up by Business Durham’s business engagement officer Lisa Wall, as part of her role under the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP).
DBOP is a three-year programme for SMEs, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, aimed at engaging with businesses that haven’t previously engaged and taken up business support services.
Lisa, who spends her Monday afternoons at the Xcel Centre with business development area manager (South) John Parnell, said: “The new series of workshops will be focused around business growth, and the survey will help give the Aycliffe Business Park Community group really good information of what the business needs are, so we can tailor their activities to meet those needs.
“From completing the survey we can then go on to form the programme of works, which will hopefully be what businesses want and not what we think businesses will want, and that’s why it’s really important that companies engage with us on this and tell us their needs.”
DBOP was created to particularly link with businesses which perhaps have not yet engaged with existing business or support services.
Lisa added: “The opportunity-spotting nature of the programme is crucial. The DBOP team at Business Durham will build a relationship with a company and help them identify and go after opportunities for growth, with a wealth of contacts, networks and knowledge available to businesses.
“Ultimately we want to help businesses in County Durham grow, by linking them with tangible opportunities, which could be a new contract, a new supplier or perhaps some investment.
“Our aim is to simplify and help increase take up of regional and national business support if appropriate to the business and the team will also offer intensive follow on support through the procurement of a number of strands of expertise tailored to a business.”
Business Durham has continued to play a major part in the development of Aycliffe Business Park by providing a range of support services and initiatives.
Earlier this year Business Durham spearheaded a bold package of business support to exploit the opportunities within the rail sector, including what Hitachi Rail Europe’s huge investment presents, as well as providing expert help for firms across a wide range of other sectors, by joining forces with the Rail Alliance to host a “Get Into Rail” regional workshop, followed up with a subsequent rail seminar at Oktoberfest.
Business Durham also came up with the idea to launch a new £20m investment programme for the county, named Finance Durham, which is hoped will help create a more sustainable approach to helping businesses to grow.
Maven Capital Partners was appointed managers of the fund in March, and funding is now being delivered to companies.
Finance Durham will support up to 70 companies in the county in its first ten years with investments ranging from £10,000 to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “We’re seeing more and more firms locate, start up and grow here in County Durham.
“This £20m to support those businesses as they scale up, create jobs and add economic prosperity to the county, will be a major boost and testament to our commitment to help County Durham’s economy grow.
“They will be investments to yield a return, so we expect to see the £20m grow to help even more businesses in the future. It’s very pioneering for a local authority to do this and we’re very proud to be able to offer support in such an innovative and direct way.”