Portsmouth has won recognition for the inventive way small businesses are supported and encouraged to grow in the city.
Local organisations including Portsmouth City Council and Shaping Portsmouth work together to help small firms, giving them advice and guiding them to sources of funding and support.
Now the ground-breaking work going on in the city has been recognised in the 2018 regional Local Authority Small Business Friendly Awards, run by the Federation of Small Businesses.
Portsmouth was highly commended in the category of most innovative programme. Judges looked at the following:
- The Portsmouth Business Support Bank. This is run by Shaping Portsmouth – a partnership involving local businesses, the council and local educational institutions. The bank offers business people up to six hours of free mentoring. Time is donated by established businesses in the city, who are matched with start-up companies in need of support. The initiative has helped around 36 small businesses.
- A partnership between the council, the University of Portsmouth and Shaping Portsmouth which ran a three-month pilot of the NatWest Entrepreneurial Spark programme, designed to help start-up businesses. The programme raised the aspirations and confidence of 36 local entrepreneurs. A total of 12 new jobs were created, £245,000 in investment was raised and nine graduates received £5,000 of award money for developing an entrepreneurial mindset and accelerating their business.
- A free business enquiry line run by the council, which gets about 350 enquiries a year.
- A free monthly email bulletin from the council updating businesses on launches, events and new ways to find help.
Cllr Ben Dowling, the council's Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: "This award recognises the special way we help small businesses in Portsmouth. Organisations and businesses in the city work together to nurture small businesses, offering their time, expertise and energy. The ethos is always that help should be easy to access and completely free. Wherever possible we try to offer face-to-face support, as the Business Support Bank shows."