Mid-Ulster businesses have less than two weeks to enter the Local Business Accelerators initiative

THERE are less than two weeks to go to enter the Local Business Accelerators initiative.

Friday November 16 is the deadline for the national scheme that aims to help small to medium-sized firms benefit from steps to help them grow.

LBA has gained the support of both the commercial sector and top politicians including the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Mid-Ulster Mail and the Tyrone Times are taking part in the scheme to help create new opportunities for businesses in the Mid-Ulster and Tyrone areas.

There will be three local winners, who will each receive the benefit of having a mentor work alongside them for a minimum of three months and free advertising in the two newspapers.

The overall winner will also receive free membership of the CBI for a year, free business advice from the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales) valued at £2,000, and an iPad from Freeagent, which is also offering a year’s free access to its accountancy software to each of the national finalists, valued at £300 per finalist.

That’s in addition to the campaign’s main prize of mentoring from the campaign’s national ambassador Deborah Meaden, of Dragons’ Den.

The Business Growth Fund has also contributed with a £10,000 cash sum for the overall winner.

To enter the LBA awards, you should be trading within the local area and have a business that is one to five years old. LBA has seen 500 regional and local newspapers join forces to provide a unique and valuable boost to local businesses across the UK, illustrating the power of local press to accelerate SMEs.

According to research from Toluna and the Newspaper Society, 60 per cent of small business owners agree that advertising in their local newspaper is the best way to attract customers in their area but only 22 per cent said they had actually used local newspapers to advertise their business.

So far more than over 900 small businesses have applied for a place on the scheme with entries continuing to pour in to participating newspapers across the UK. The campaign has received the backing of a host of high profile supporters with Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise, the latest to lend his support via a video message on the LBA homepage which can be found at accelerateme.co.uk.

Mr Fallon said: “The Government is proud to support the Local Business Accelerators initiative which highlights the important role that local papers can play in working with businesses in their area.

“There are around 4.8 million small and medium sized enterprises in the UK, that’s around 99 per cent of all businesses. They are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s why we feel it’s so important to support Local Business Accelerators.

“Local press can help businesses reach over 30 million people who rely on local papers and for information about events and services in their area each week.”