£1.5m investment in superfast business support will boost Cheshire’s small businesses and help create over 400 jobs
More than 900 small and medium-sized businesses across Cheshire and Warrington are set to benefit from a £1.5m investment from the European Regional Development Fund and Connecting Cheshire to help them benefit from digital technology enabled by faster broadband.
The new Connecting Cheshire Superfast Business service will be delivered by Peninsula Enterprise and Groundwork Cheshire to help eligible businesses learn about and exploit the opportunities brought about by digital technology and fibre-optic broadband.
The service will work with small-to-medium-sized businesses, which are already benefiting from good connection speeds or where superfast broadband will be installed.
By helping businesses grow and increase their productivity, Superfast Business hopes to create about 478 jobs across Cheshire in the next two years and boost the economy by almost £19.5m.
Connecting Cheshire recently signed a £28.5m contract with BT to extend access to high-speed fibre optic broadband to 96 per cent of all premises by 2016.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “Superfast Business is a great way for firms to understand and benefit from broadband technology. It will complement our major investment of public funds to extend faster broadband infrastructure to most areas and bring real benefit to businesses and economic growth to Cheshire.”
Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chair of the North West European Regional Development Fund local management committee, said: “This programme will help local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs. It will provide a major boost to the Cheshire economy and the North West European Regional Development Fund programme is pleased to be supporting it financially.”
Ian Gent, director at Peninsula Enterprise, said: “We are excited to have the opportunity to deliver a high-quality superfast broadband business support service in Cheshire.”
At the heart of the service is a new website: www.ccbusiness.co.uk with an online knowledge area that holds a selection of top tips, guides and the latest thinking from industry experts on digital technology and opportunities for businesses.
Eligible businesses will have access to fully-funded support, including a team of expert advisers, a programme of events on hot topics offering inspirational insights and practical solutions and specialists with niche expertise.
Businesses can visit www.ccbusiness.co.uk or call 0300 123 1696 to find out about the benefits of superfast broadband and associated technology and to confirm if they are eligible to access the fully-funded business support package.
Greville Kelly, director at Groundwork Cheshire, said: “Superfast broadband is about much more than speeding up your email or web browsing. It can transform all the ways that you do business.
“Superfast connections offer a more reliable and consistent service – which is a crucial issue for rural businesses – whilst opening up new markets and boosting productivity.
“We are urging ambitious businesses with strong growth potential to visit our new website and find out more about the service – it has the potential to revolutionise the way they operate.”
The benefits of superfast broadband are already being experienced by companies across Cheshire who say it has ‘transformed’ their businesses.
Vibe is a Macclesfield branding, digital and PR agency with 14 staff. They undertake design and marketing work for a wide range of clients ranging from small, medium and large businesses in the UK and abroad.
Senior designer Isaac Allison explained some of the problems they faced prior to being able to access a fibre broadband service. He said: “Before we had fibre the internet would definitely slow down at peak times when everyone was online. We handle a lot of large files such as uploading websites onto servers so everything would noticeably slow down – which was far from ideal.”
Since being able to access faster broadband service things have been much better, transforming the way the designers and work and engage with clients.
He added: “It’s been amazing how quickly files come down the line now and, likewise, when we need to send files to printers for example, this can be done in seconds. Even for practical things like backing up our work each day to a cloud-storage facility can now be completed in a quarter of the time it previously took.”
Superfast Business is also looking to establish a network of IT suppliers and consultants across the region that can support the service. Interested parties are asked to get in touch at www.ccbusiness.co.uk