Local Business Accelerators: Help us to give business a £15m shot-in-the-arm

Deborah Meaden. Picture supplied
Deborah Meaden. Picture supplied
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The Rutland and Stamford Mercury, along with other regional and local newspapers across the country have today delivered a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15m of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.

The bold initiative, backed by Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden, is called Local Business Accelerators and is being spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society in association with the Mercury.

Nearly 500 local press publications are joining forces to promote the strength and value of local newspapers for local businesses and communities.

Together, the local press industry will search for the nation’s most promising young businesses and help them accelerate their success with top professional advice from local business mentors plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space in their local publication.

What’s more, one lucky business picked from the hundreds of regional winners will get individual mentoring sessions from the LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden, who will become a consultant and mentor to the business for one year.

Deborah Meaden said: “I’ve seen the unique contribution that local press makes to the success of local businesses time and again with my own ventures. In this age of enterprise it has never been more important to drive awareness about the value of local marketing for a fledgling business, which is why I’m so proud to support Local Business Accelerators and help build thriving and industrious communities.”

This week, the Mercury launches its Local Business Accelerators search. It’s open to all businesses that are active in the local community, between one and three years old and full of potential. They may have a great idea or product, or even found a new market. They’re the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and individually they will create pride in the community.

If you run such a business, or know anyone who does, and want the chance to receive invaluable business support and advertising space in the Mercury, visit {http:// www.accelerateme.co.uk/|www.accelerateme.co.uk} for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close on November 14, 2011.

Robert Loomes, owner of Robert Loomes watchmakers, of Stamford, and Ross Clephane, owner of Brayshaw Morey accountants in Stamford will head the judging panel. They will sit alongside Mercury editor Eileen Green and Mercury commercial development manager Roberta Stinson and it is these four who will review and shortlist entries before awarding one lucky local business with the prize of free advertising and business advice.

That star business will be put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.

Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press. 

“No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like Local Business Accelerators. It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.”

Visit {http:// www.accelerateme.co.uk/|www.accelerateme.co.uk} for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close on November 14, 2011.

The Newspaper Society is the voice of Britain’s local media - a sector focused on providing local news and information across its 1,200 daily and weekly, paid-for and free regional and local newspaper titles, 1,600 companion websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.

A wealth of experience to ensure success for our winner

HERE we introduce the local business mentors, who will choose the winner of our local business accelerator competition and then guide them with their extensive business knowledge.

Ross Clephane owns accountancy firm Brayshaw Morey, based in Broad Street, Stamford. The company was founded in Surrey in 1987 with three other partners, two of whom retired and one who left to work for a bank.

Ross moved to Morcott in Rutland with his wife Sharon and three children eight years ago. He continued to commute to Surrey until four years ago when he moved the business to Stamford.

Ross’ mother and brother are both accountants and he followed the same route, after completing his national service in Zimbabwe where he grew up. He moved to the UK when he was in his early 20s.

He said: “Being an accountant was something I just fell into. There weren’t the opportunities then that there are today with things like IT.

“But I do like my job and I enjoy working for myself. There is never a Monday morning when I wake up and think I don’t want to go to work today. All your energies go into something you will benefit from.”

Although the firm is small with only five full-time staff, Brayshaw Morey has a big client base and deals with sole traders and partnerships all over the world.

Ross, 54, said he was excited about local business accelerators and believes he can offer a wealth of knowledge to the winner.

He said: “When I first heard about local business accelerators, I thought it was an excellent idea. Anything that we can do to encourage business has got to be a great thing. I hope to give them real business advice on cash flow, book keeping and I can suggest roads for tax savings and limited liability. I can also help them to forge good business relationships with people like bank managers, which I think is so important.

“I think I can help someone to run a business effectively but at the same time find out what their aspirations are. I look forward to the challenge.”

Robert Loomes, who runs a clock and watch repair and restoration business in St Mary’s Hill, Stamford, has been in the clock business since he was a boy.

His parents Brian and Joy Loomes buy and sell antique clocks and Robert joined the family business. But he soon realised his real interest lay in repair and restoration and he took exams shortly after joining the business in these areas.

As Robert’s own repair and restoration business grew and he established a customer base in London, he realised it was no longer feasible to be based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

He said: “Stamford just seemed like the perfect place as it was the half way point between Yorkshire and London.”

Robert moved to Stamford in 1993 with wife Robina Hill and set up a workshop in the shed in his back garden. He took on a workshop in St Leonard’s Street in 2002 before moving to the business’ current home in St Mary’s Hill nearly three years ago.

The business now employs 12 full-time staff, including workshop manager Margaret Scarr who started with Robert when he was working from home.

Robert also now makes watches.

He said: “It feels like I’m part of the town now and I can’t think of a good reason to leave Stamford.

“We have always found it easy to recruit here, even with people who are moving to the area, because Stamford is so pretty.”

As a local business mentor, Robert, 43, believes he can impart some of the business knowledge he has picked up over the years.

He said: “If it were me 18 years ago, I definitely would have entered local business accelerators because a big part of business is getting your name out there.

“I think the variety of businesses is what makes Stamford interesting and I look forward to helping another business flourish. I think it will be great fun.”