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[15 SEP 98] THE CHAMBER PRESS RELEASE
Euro 1m To Help Small Firms Grow

Europe is to provide more than 1 million to enable greater support for smaller companies in Coventry and Warwickshire which want to grow.

The Chamber estimates that at least 680 jobs will be created from the expansion of the advice service by personal business advisers provided by Business Link.

A matching contribution from The Chamber, plus fees from the businesses, helped take the two-year project to a total of 2.7 million.

"This is a huge boost for the sector of business which is forecast to provide the majority of new jobs in Coventry and Warwickshire over the next five years," said Chamber European funding co-ordinator Ajay Desai.

It will enable The Chamber to consolidate and expand its range of specialist services, including issues like the environment.

It will also encourage employers to invest more effectively in the skills their business needs - which in turn will help to stimulate the economy through the growth of smaller businesses and self employment.

Mr Desai added:

"Without this extra funding, the weaknesses which we had previously identified among smaller companies in Coventry and Warwickshire would undoubtedly persist.

"One-to-one support for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) will prove crucial in gaining their confidence and encouraging them to follow through on the recommendations the personal business adviser makes."

The Chamber will avoid taking on extra members of staff by utilising outside experts, for instance from Warwick University.

Networking clubs will also be developed to help smaller manufacturers to learn about the best practices from others.

Over 3,000 SMEs are to be contacted, and The Chamber expects almost one in three to take advantage of the guidance offered.

Advice given covers manufacturing, design, innovation and technology, IT, exporting and financial advice, and provides consultants to carry out a diagnosis of the needs of the business.

"It will also enable us to give smaller companies help with marketing, management and professional development, training for staff and use of the regional supply network," Mr Desai said.

"Without help from the European Regional Development Fund the project would have had to be greatly reduced, possibly leading to certain elements disappearing completely."

MORE INFORMATION:  Barry Lloyd-Jones   01203 654260

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CWN / Business / The Chamber / 11 November 1998

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