REGIONAL and local newspapers across the country have today delivered a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15million of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.
The bold initiative, backed by Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden, is called Local Business Accelerators (LBA) and is being spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society.
Nearly 500 local press publications, including the Sunderland Echo, 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 is 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 Echo launches its Local Business Accelerators search.
It is open to all businesses that are active across Wearside, 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 are 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 Echo, click here for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close on November 14.
Members of Wearside’s business community, Mick Thurlbeck and Lesley Callaghan, alongside Echo editor Rob Lawson, will form the judging panel and will review and shortlist entries before awarding three lucky local businesses with the prize of free advertising and business advice.
They will also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.
Lesley Callaghan (pictured) was a director of SAFC for more than a decade, taking direct responsibility for all aspects of marketing, PR and commercial operations and led the club’s contribution to Sunderland’s successful bid for 2018 World Cup host city status.
She is a director of Callaghan Marketing, specialising in strategic marketing and public relations, event creation and management and sports marketing and commercial development.
Dr Michael Thurlbeck is a senior consultant at Stapleton International, which supplies high calibre professionals to provide worldwide leading edge consultancy services to the engineering and construction industries, and chief executive at the Tees Valley Engineering Partnership. He is a former chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce Sunderland committee.
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.”