Your chance to ignite that business spark

Pamela Hargreaves cuts the ribbon to open the refurbished ofice of Owton Fens Community Association building
Pamela Hargreaves cuts the ribbon to open the refurbished ofice of Owton Fens Community Association building
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ENTERPRISE chiefs today revealed a new £7,500 business contest for Hartlepool.

The Trade Tester Competition is being launched by Hartlepool Enterprise Centre in conjunction with Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

It is open to people working from home and wanting to get into their own business place – or people wanting to make the next move after just six months of trading.

To help them take that next step, they will receive the lucrative prize of a stall in the indoor market at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

It will be theirs rent-free for six months and they will also get a full business support package. It’s a prize worth £7,500 to the winner.

Coun Pam Hargreaves, Hartlepool Borough Council’s portfolio holder for economic development and regeneration, said the scheme follows on from the success of a project launched in September 2009. It offered rent-free periods for stallholders in the indoor market.

“This has come on the back of that,” said Coun Hargreaves.

“The opportunity is there for anyone with a business idea, or who operates a business from their back bedroom. It is a chance for them to take that idea and try it out in more of a retail environment.”

She described the competition as “an amazing opportunity”.

She added: “It takes away the start-up costs.

“One of the biggest things that people say to us is that start-up costs are one of the things that prohibits them from starting. We are giving them that leg-up as well as support from the enterprise team.”

Coun Hargreaves said it was “an opportunity for people to have a go at something”.

She added: “The more firms we get to start up in Hartlepool the better impact it will have on the town economy.

“There are lots of reasons for us to do it. It could be a helping hand for someone who has been made redundant.

“We are doing it because we realise it is a difficult time for people.”

Shopping centre manager Mark Rycraft said: “This reaches out to anyone out there who has come up with that little idea and thought ‘I wonder if it will work’?

“It reaches out to any entrepreneur of any age. It could be a school leaver or someone who has retired.”

DETAILS OF HOW IT WORKS

The free event is open to:

■people who are working from home and want to set up in business premises;

■someone who has been in premises for at least six months and wants to move on;

Details of how to enter are available on an application pack. It is available by:

■visiting the websites at www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk, or www.hartlepoolbusinessforum.co.uk;

■calling in Hartlepool Enterprise Centre in Brougham Terrace;

■Ringing the Enterprise Centre on (01429) 867677;

■emailing enterprisecentre@hartlepool.gov.uk.

The closing date for applicants is Friday, March 11.

The winner is likely to be announced in early April.