Help us to give business a £15m shot-in-the-arm

Regional and local newspapers across the country have today delivered a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15million of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.

The bold initiative, backed by Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden, is called Local Business Accelerators and is being spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society in association with the Free Press.

Nearly 500 local press publications are joining forces to promote the strength and value of local newspapers for local businesses and communities.

Together, the local press industry will search for the nation’s most promising young businesses and help them accelerate their success with top professional advice from local business mentors plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space in their local publication.

What is more, one lucky business picked from the hundreds of regional winners will get individual mentoring sessions from LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden, who will become a consultant and mentor to the business for one year.

Deborah said: “I’ve seen the unique contribution that local press makes to the success of local businesses time and again with my own ventures.

“In this age of enterprise, it has never been more important to drive awareness about the value of local marketing for a fledgling business, which is why I’m so proud to support Local Business Accelerators and help build thriving and industrious communities.”

This week, the Free Press launches its Local Business Accelerators search. It is open to all businesses that are active in the local community, between one and three years old and full of potential.

They may have a great idea or product, or even found a new market. They are the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and individually they will create pride in the community.

If you run such a business, or know anyone who does, and want the chance to receive invaluable business support and advertising space in the Free Press, visit for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close on November 14, 2011.

Jane Vincent, chief executive of WS Training and chairman of Suffolk’s enterprise agency Menta, and Andrew Denny, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce and Director of Denny Bros Group, in Bury, will head the judging panel.

They will sit alongside Anglia Newspapers’ group editor Barry Peters, Free Press editor Philip Minett, Anglia Newspapers’ advertisement director Peter Hoxley and advertisement manager Jamie Brodie and it is these five who will review and shortlist entries before awarding three lucky local businesses with the prize of free advertising and business advice.

They will also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.

Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press. 

“No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like Local Business Accelerators.

“It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.”

n The Newspaper Society is the voice of Britain’s local media – a sector focused on providing local news and information across its 1,200 daily and weekly, paid-for and free regional and local newspaper titles, 1,600 companion websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.