Shortlist revealed in scheme to boost Sunderland business

Mick Thurlbeck is one of the judges in the Local Business Accelerators competition. Echo editor Rob Lawson and former SAFC director Lesley Callaghan (below) are also on the panel.
Mick Thurlbeck is one of the judges in the Local Business Accelerators competition. Echo editor Rob Lawson and former SAFC director Lesley Callaghan (below) are also on the panel.
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THE SUNDERLAND Echo today announces the seven local businesses, including software firms, an HR consultancy and even a chocolate business card producer, that have made the shortlist in the Local Business Accelerators competition.

The nationwide campaign was launched in October by regional and local newspapers across the country and backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden.

Dated: 22/03/2011'Sunderland AFC announce a new 5 year deal for one of the Stadium of Light's Major Players - Heineken UK...'Sunderland AFC Marketing and Commercial Director Lesley Callaghan (left) and players Fraizer Campbell (right) and David Meyler (2nd left) pictured with Heineken UK Director of First Point John Gemmell pictured with the Strongbow stand at the Stadium of Light'See SAFC Press Release ...'Fao Louise Wanless, Sunderland Football Club ... #NorthNewsAndPictures/2daymedia *** Local Caption ***

Dated: 22/03/2011'Sunderland AFC announce a new 5 year deal for one of the Stadium of Light's Major Players - Heineken UK...'Sunderland AFC Marketing and Commercial Director Lesley Callaghan (left) and players Fraizer Campbell (right) and David Meyler (2nd left) pictured with Heineken UK Director of First Point John Gemmell pictured with the Strongbow stand at the Stadium of Light'See SAFC Press Release ...'Fao Louise Wanless, Sunderland Football Club ... #NorthNewsAndPictures/2daymedia *** Local Caption ***

The competition will see 1,500 firms receive £15million of free advertising to help boost their businesses in 2012.

Judges – which included Echo editor Rob Lawson; former Black Cats director-turned PR guru Lesley Callaghan and Tees Valley Engineering Partnership chief executive Dr Michael Thurlbeck – said entries across Wearside were of an extremely high standard, with enthusiastic firms recognising the benefits that local advertising can bring.

The Wearside businesses to have made the Local Business Accelerators shortlist are: ChocCards Ltd; Online Video CV; Rise Consultants; Affinity Systems; Celearning Educational Services; Professional People Management; and Lynch Therapy Services.

The firms will now go through to a further round of judging before three winners are selected by the judging panel.

Child of Courage award winners, left to right; Connor Rowntree, Eliot Hunter, Connor Cassidy, Megan Forrest and Aaron Vincent on stage with Editor of the Sunderland Echo Rob Lawson.'Pride of Wearside Awards 2010

Child of Courage award winners, left to right; Connor Rowntree, Eliot Hunter, Connor Cassidy, Megan Forrest and Aaron Vincent on stage with Editor of the Sunderland Echo Rob Lawson.'Pride of Wearside Awards 2010

As well as receiving top professional advice from our local business mentors, their prize also includes a substantial allocation of free advertising space in the pages of the Echo.

In addition, Deborah Meaden will also become a mentor to one overall business, picked from the hundreds of regional winners, providing invaluable business support throughout 2012 to drive their business forward.

Editor Rob said: “We have been delighted with the response locally to the Local Business Accelerators competition.

“Times are tough but there are some exciting success stories out there and we are delighted to have the chance to help.

“The Local Business Accelerator Scheme gives three lucky businesses the chance to enjoy all the benefits of advertising in the Echo, as well as advice from some of Wearside’s best-known business figures.”

The winners will be reported in the Echo on January 11.