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The economy is our driving force

Since it began operating in April, the regional business support service has met with more than 3,800 businesses and individuals and its business advisers have been working with 190 companies.

Business Link East chairman Chris Parkhouse (pictured) outlined the new-look organisation’s performance so far and its plans for the future to Bedfordshire business leaders at a lunch hosted by the Bedfordshire & Luton Economic Development Partnership.

He told his audience at The Inn at Woburn: "Engaging with businesses and partners in Bedfordshire and Luton has been a real priority for Business Link. Since the new service launched we have made a promising start and continue to make a real difference to businesses in the county."

The invitation from BLEDP to address Bedfordshire and Luton business leaders was testament to the on-going relationship between Business Link and BLEDP, Mr Parkhouse added. "Influencing the economic growth of the county is a driving force at the core of both of our organisations."

Since the launch of the new service, Business Link was doing well in reaching its targets. Its penetration had increased significantly, with July and August the two most fruitful months for adviser productivity.

The former Business Link contract for Bedfordshire and Luton ended in March, to be replaced by a new regional service. In the first five months of its contract, which began in April, Business Link had helped 3,847 businesses and individuals in Bedfordshire and Luton, Mr Parkhouse said.

Of these, 1,500 were people thinking of starting a business and more than 190 existing businesses had sought in-depth support from Business Link’s business advisers.

BLEDP chief executive Chris Barnes said that Business Link would play a key role as the county worked to deliver the 50,000 new jobs required under the region’s expansion plans.

"I am pleased with the progress made by Business Link East so far," Mr Barnes added. "It has been a major task to create one organisation out of six. I hope that the reorganisation will result in many more businesses making use of BLE’s services.

"BLEDP’s own staff attended one of their free courses earlier this year and found it very beneficial. I look forward to working with BLE in the future to meet the demanding new jobs targets that have been set for Bedfordshire and Luton."

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