300 jobs and more to come through SMEs programme

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A PROJECT aimed at helping small businesses to grow has been hailed as a massive success - with even better news to come.

More than 200 delegates met at Wynyard to hear the progress of the Business Acceleration for SMEs (BASME) programme, and how it had blown all predictions out of the water.

BASME is run by the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) whose chief executive Dr Stan Higgins said: “We had high expectations of our BASME project and it is exceeding all of them.

“The overall project aims to deliver 1,000 jobs over four years, and 300 jobs have been delivered in 18 months. We set ourselves a target to collectively increase SMEs sales by £40m and that has been blown out of the water.”

He said it was an amazing return, showing what could happen when networking and mentoring worked well together.

BASME’s aim is to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop. It was set up with £1.5m from the Regional Growth fund (RGF), with extra money which was put forward by senior figures in the process industries.

The three-year programme offers a free mentoring service, which involves senior figures giving support to smaller companies.

Dozens of the mentor firms were at the Wynyard event including Huntsman, Sabic, Sembcorp, Northumbrian Water, and PD Ports.

There are 240 SMEs currently receiving help and Dr Higgins added: “Collectively, the business value of the 240 participating SMEs exceeds £540m and together they employ 5,400 people. If this were one company it would be 14th largest in the region”.

For more details on the programme, contact (01642) 442576,