The new service, which aims to assist 16,000 companies between now and 2010, is sending its team of advisers out into the most affected areas of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire through a series of one-on-one reviews and specialist business clinics.
It is anticipated that over 1000 companies – including tourist destinations, agriculture, manufacturers, retail outlets and firms involved in food and drink - have been hit by the severe weather conditions, with many sites flooded, transport disrupted and huge levels of stock damaged.
Lorraine Holmes, Chief Executive of West Midlands Brokerage Service, part of Business Link West Midlands, explained:
“We are working extremely closely with Advantage West Midlands, partners and local authorities to ensure that we understand the full impact of the problems being faced and, more importantly, deliver a co-ordinated approach that provides the right support as soon as possible.”
She continued: “From our viewpoint, we have in excess of 50 advisers – many with specialist knowledge of issues facing rural businesses – ready to come out and talk to companies affected. This could simply be a business review to see how they could return to normal or it might be that we can work with them on areas that will alleviate this problem in the future.
“The flooding might even have prompted some organisations to look at their operations and where they want to be in the future. We can again help, this time by working with the company on identifying their need and then providing access to the innovative West Midlands Supplier Register.
“This gives us the opportunity to match the most suitable consultant for their requirement from a quality assured list of 500 specialists.”
Business Link West Midlands, which can be reached on 0845 113 1234, provides a single access point for all business, manufacturing and skills support.
By simplifying the process, the organisation is in a prime position to boost the region’s enterprise culture and continue to provide in-depth assistance to established and growing businesses.
It has also adopted a number of innovative firsts in the development of the Knowledge Bank (featuring 2000 fact sheets, industry reports and grant schemes), the launch of a suite of E-Zines and the formation of stronger partnerships with the private sector.
“Enterprise Sessions and Business Clinics are another feature of our support,” explained Lorraine. “We want to go out into the rural areas and provide the help they need on their doorstep, whether that is on site or at a local venue.
“As a result of the recent floods, we will be looking to increase the number of workshops scheduled in a bid to deliver assistance as quickly as possible.”
She concluded: “We have significant experience in helping companies through extremely difficult circumstances, with a large number of our staff providing crucial support during the ‘Foot and Mouth’ crisis and the MG Rover and Peugeot closures.
Everything is in place; it’s now up to the firms to come forward.”
Business Link West Midlands is expected to help over 70,000 businesses and individuals thinking of starting a company with information, with a further 16,000 receiving intensive support from experienced business advisers by 2010.
This level of support is expected to generate a £400m improvement to the economic performance of the West Midlands.
To get in touch with Business Link West Midlands, please contact 0845 113 1234.