TV show panellist could be your mentor

Last year's winnners - Rob Talbot, head chef and executive, (right) with his partner Kelly Thornton, who is front of house manager, with sous chef, Yan Beattie, in the restaurant at The Redwell Country Inn and Restaurant at Arkholme

Last year's winnners - Rob Talbot, head chef and executive, (right) with his partner Kelly Thornton, who is front of house manager, with sous chef, Yan Beattie, in the restaurant at The Redwell Country Inn and Restaurant at Arkholme

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UP and coming local firms are being invited to put themselves forward to win free advertising in the Wigan Observer plus mentoring from business leaders.

The newspaper is once more among more than 500 across the UK taking part in the industry’s acclaimed Local Business Accelerators (LBA) campaign.

The campaign, which is led by Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den, is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England.

It is estimated that the initiative, which is open to firms aged between one and five years old, will deliver a £15m boost to business through the free advertising and mentoring.

Local winners will go forward to the national stage of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.

Charles Graham, news editor of the Wigan Observer, said: “As a local newspaper we want to be at the heart of our community and that includes supporting up-and-coming businesses in Wigan and the surrounding area.

“We would therefore encourage companies in the Lancaster district to enter the competition and give themselves a chance of securing this valuable advertising and business support, not to mention the publicity that goes with it.”

Locally the competition which will see us offer a free advertising campaign to the winning Wigan business, funded by the Newspaper Society, and also the mentoring services of our two expert judges. They are:

John Winnard: co-director of Wigan-based sweet manufacturer William Santus and Co who has a wealth of business experience and has been a government business adviser;

John Hughes: co-director of the multi-award-winning Hughes Brothers construction firm which not only has a number of blue chip contracts but is also acclaimed for its recruitment and rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.

“The campaign provided tangible examples of the real contribution that local newspapers can provide to young businesses across many different sectors, accelerating their development.

“Enterprise and entrepreneurism in the local community is more important than ever before and I look forward to finding another young business to mentor and drive forward.”

Mr Cameron said: “The Local Business Accelerators campaign has provided tremendous support to fledgling businesses across the country and I am delighted it will be running for a second year.

“Local newspapers play a vital role in their communities and are uniquely placed to support small businesses, giving them the boost that they need to grow, which is good for local areas and good for the economy as a whole.”

Last year’s overall LBA winner, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire, which is currently receiving mentoring support from Deborah, saw its orders in Leeds double as a result of the free LBA ad campaign in its local paper and the business expanded to take on two new employees.

Research recently conducted by Toluna and campaign organisers the Newspaper Society reveals that business owners were most likely to use local newspapers to advertise their businesses (22 per cent) and they were cited as the most effective of all forms of advertising (49 per cent).

Businesses can enter the competition in the Wigan Observer via the LBA hub at www.accelerateme.co.uk.

The closing date is November 16.