It’s the organisation that has boosted Greater Manchester’s economy by more than £160m by directly supporting more than 7,300 businesses since it was founded five years ago. But the benefits brought by the Business Growth Hub to this city region go far beyond this.
Since the organisation opened its doors to ambitious entrepreneurs in December 2011, it has also helped companies across Greater Manchester create 8,000 jobs while safeguarding 11,000 more.In addition, the organisation’s impartial specialists have ensured that businesses across the city region have secured more than £153m in funding while also saving £318m through improved environmental performance.
Such has been the Business Growth Hub’s success that its format has since been rolled out nationally, with many other major regions establishing their own hub seeking to emulate the achievements witnessed here.
When Richard Jeffery helped found the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub, in Oxford Street, five years ago, he always knew it was going to be a challenge assisting businesses to achieve their potential in the middle of a recession. Jeffery paid tribute to the Hub’s “extremely talented and committed team” which has grown from its four original members to more than 140 today.
At any time, the Hub has seconded staff from all ten Greater Manchester local authorities working in its offices. It also has four business development managers based across Manchester, Salford, Manchester Metropolitan and Bolton Universities providing a link between cutting-edge research and innovative businesses across the city region. But far from resting on its laurels, the Hub is looking to the next five years positively.
Jeffery added: “There are four key areas that we need to focus on going forward. First of all, we need to ensure that business at every stage of their evolution think globally. It can be too easy for companies to focus on domestic markets but it’s imperative that they think globally as part of their journey. Second, we need to get more businesses to innovate.
“We’ve got some fantastic businesses based here but we need to get more of them building on their success by thinking differently. The Hub is now working closely with Innovate UK and we’ve got a permanent member of their team based here as we look to really help new companies. Third, we very much want companies that come to us to grow through their people.
“At the moment, we recognise that a lack of skilled staff is proving a barrier to growth and we’ve responded by creating a team that goes into offices and actively works with those companies to resolve these issues.
"And finally, we also want to ensure that companies are operating in the most sustainable way. While we recognise that this isn’t the hottest topic at the moment, it’s essential that companies ensure that their business model is as sustainable as possible in every way.
“In short, the next five years looks certain to be an exciting time for entrepreneurs across Greater Manchester who have the vision to drive their companies forward and bring the continued economic growth that this region deserves.”
Among the businesses that will be raising a glass to the expertise and experience served up by the Business Growth Hub is the Salford-based Seven Bro7hers Brewery.
Run by siblings from the McAvoy family, the brewery was turned down by several high street banks when looking for finance until it approached the Hub’s Access to Finance team. An application to Business Finance Solutions was successful, with a £50,000 loan enabling them to buy the equipment they needed to start brewing.
Director Keith McAvoy explained: “Before we met the Business Growth Hub team we were uncertain what was the best direction for the business to follow - but it all became much clearer after our first few meetings. The Business Growth Hub has helped us get where we are today much more quickly than we could have done alone, and given us the foundation we needed to successfully find funding.”