My day starts when I meet my LEP colleague Gill Stevenson, who manages the Humber Apprenticeship Support Service. We’re both “South Bankers” so when possible we car share. Connectivity throughout the Humber is improving all the time and today we have a smooth journey into the city centre taking in the magnificent view of the ‘Energy’ Estuary as we cross the iconic Bridge.
On arrival, I catch up with Growth Hub colleague Kevin Headley. We are the only two Growth Hub staff based in the LEP office in Hull, however we have another four colleagues working in each of the Humber local authority areas.
After checking diaries, Kevin and I consider the latest web stats and messages to post on Twitter. Since revamping the website we’ve had a significant increase in users and today’s check shows 6% increase on last week. Many inquiries are about start-up advice, funding, training or requesting a general business health check, so we refer them to the appropriate advisor or organisation operating in their area. On a regular basis, organisations offering business support ask to be included on the web site, and these need vetting and given an account before they can go live. Recently we’ve welcomed For Entrepreneurs Only, the University of Lincoln, the British Library and Intellectual Property Office and E-factor’s Business Hive Club.
Critical to my role is understanding what support is on offer for local businesses within the Humber. One of the best ways is to meet as many support organisation as possible, so I get on the phone and arrange a number of future appointments.
I prepare for a busy afternoon. We’ve commissioned a local film company to produce a series of DVDs about how Growth Hub supports local businesses. I make a quick call to ensure everything is in order. Today they are filming Hull’s tallest mobile crane, bought by the Sangwin Group, with assistance from RGF Growing the Humber funding. Sangwin wanted the new crane so they would be in a good position to bid for some of the major infrastructure projects in the region and Growing the Humber offered the solution because it provides additional investment to help businesses unlock their economic potential and create jobs.
Filming then moves to Te@6, in Ulceby, a cafe set up by former chef Mark Burney, who previously taught 16-19 year olds at Grimsby Institute for Further and Higher Education. Having their own tea room was Mark’s and wife Teresa’s dream, but they had no previous experience of running a business. They approached Growth Hub and our advisor gave Te@6 a diagnostic check and recommended a marketing course and some diversification. The business is now thriving, offering regular theme nights, supplying lunches to two local nurseries and earned a place on North Lincs Council’s Teapot Trail 2015.
Early afternoon and time to check in with Kevin as to how many referrals we have received from the National Business Support Helpline. On average we will get circa 5-6 referrals each week from the helpline.
Then it’s time to hook up with Gill again. We are both speaking at seminars at the North Lincs Expo. First we visit the staff on the Humber LEP exhibition stand who report a busy morning. A quick coffee, check the power point presentation and meet co-presenter Jenny Couch from NLC’s economic development team. Jenny focuses on the business development and funding opportunities in Northern Lincolnshire and I give an overview of Growth Hub’s offer, drawing attention to the imminent call for applications for European Growth Funding and that the LEP is hosting two seminars to guide potential applicants. There’s additional pressure on my presentation today as it will be filmed but despite the nerves I always get a buzz out of these events and enjoy the networking opportunities.
Then it is off to find a quiet corner for a phone conversation with Lancaster University which, on behalf of the Government, coordinates Growth Hub initiatives in the wave 2 city regions. Today I’m talking to them about the latest grant claim and future funding.
Then, a final check in with Kevin in the LEP office, pack the exhibition stand and motor down the M180, dropping Gill at her car on the way home.