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SME Business Support Group

90% of all businesses in the West of England are SMEs and they account for a significant proportion of private sector employment. Their success and growth of SMEs is the key element of the local economy which in turn is one of the drivers in the UK economy.

Ensuring that these companies and businesses have all the factors in place to allow them to grow is what the LEP is about. Many of the major barriers to grow (e.g. skills availability, transport and communications) are picked up discretely by other dedicated sector groups within the LEP, leaving the focus of the SME Group as business support issues and other issues of particular concern to SMEs that might get lost otherwise, e.g. access to finance. 

The SME sector group comprises locally based not for profit organisations whose remit is the support and development of SMEs and assisting new SMEs start up. The group acquires its intelligence on the barriers which SME face via 3 channels:

  1. Sector group participants' own exposure to thousands of SMEs through their own support or/and representative roles
  2. Industry/commerce: specific sector groups feedback on those issues which are particularly prevalent for SMEs in their sector
  3. The quarterly Barriers to Growth survey commissioned by the LEP and carried out by Business West which accesses the membership of all the core West of England Business Representative organisations inc FSB, CBI, IOD and the Chambers of Commerce

We meet quarterly and are challenged to link the growing but fragmented publicly funded business support infrastructure (e.g. UKTI, MAS etc) with the day to day issues faced by the SME (e.g. access to finance, innovation support, skills mismatches). We also work with the financial industry and banks to try and find localised solutions to some of the nationwide access to finance issues.

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LEPs are driving economic growth across an economic area. They provide a means for local authorities to work together with business in order to quicken the economic recovery.
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