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21st Nov 2018

Business community urges SMEs to reach out to regional finance network

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Northern Powerhouse Investment FundSheffield City Region LEP

Members of the business community in Sheffield have advised SMEs to engage and build relationships with finance professionals across the region when looking to access funding.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund hosted a ‘Funding for Growth’ breakfast seminar, in partnership with the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. Taking place at the Crucible Theatre, more than 70 attendees, including businesses, accountants, and bankers came to the event.

Hosted by Jillian Thomas, Former President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Future Life Management, a panel of finance experts were invited to discuss the importance of reaching out to the Local Enterprise Partnership, Growth Hub, and other support networks when securing funding.

Andy McKenna, member of the Access to Finance team at Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, said: “The corporate finance market is incredibly varied, and is certainly difficult to navigate when working alone. With this in mind, small businesses must engage with organisations such as the Growth Hub to find a lender that will not only offer the right funding, but also work in partnership to help achieve their growth prospects.”

Whilst the banks may offer the cheapest rates for borrowing, traditional funding has become harder for businesses to secure. Rachel Abbott, Managing Director at Cobra Sports International, experienced this when she went to her high-street bank to help fund her business.

Rachel Abbott said: “Having a finance application rejected can be devastating, and without knowing the ins-and-outs of corporate finance, it is difficult to know where to look next. We need to spread the awareness of the other avenues, such as the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, as these lenders and investors are keen to provide funding to businesses that require financial backing.”

Jillian Thomas said: “I would encourage businesses to plan ahead and start building relationships with advisers well in advance. Many will leave things until the last minute, which makes the application a lot weaker and in turn makes rejection much more probable.”

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Manager at British Business Bank who operate the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund said:  “Raising awareness of the different finance options available to businesses is a key objective of the British Business Bank and events such this helps to spread that important message.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Photo Caption – left to right:  Sam Cockerill from Libertine, Mark Lord from Aztec Oils, Jillian Thomas from Future Life, Andy McKenna from Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, Mark Wilcockson from British Business Bank, Rachel Abbott from Cobra Sports International

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