FROM this week, Chester is home to an ambitious ‘one-stop’ business support hub for organisations across the region.

For the first time, a single venue offers a full range of services, in collaboration with the University of Chester, Cheshire West and Chester Council, andŠWest Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.

Through a pilot project, Business @ RIC provides dedicated business support to help enterprising people to develop an idea into a business proposition, start a company, or expand an existing commercial concern

Based together at the university’s Riverside Innovation Centre (RIC), a team of experts delivers direct access and referrals to business support, as appropriate.

By working together, the agencies can develop the specialist resources on offer to business and avoid duplication.

Paul Kirkbright, director of the RIC, said: “The fragmented approach, following the demise of institutions such as the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Business Link, inspired us to come up with a totally new concept for Chester.

“We realised there was great potential to work together and offer an holistic and co-ordinated service from one place that could help both new and existing businesses to develop and grow.”

Herbert Manley, executive portfolio holder for regeneration, added: “At a time when many of the central Government business support products have been scaled down, the three partners are developing a proactive solution to supporting business from one source.”

Colin Brew, general manager of West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, said: “The chamber is delighted to be working with its partners within the University of Chester and Cheshire West and Chester to offer a range of business support services which will provide the local business community a one stop focal point for all their individual requirements.”

Initially a number of business support providers will offer support from the RIC, including advice on starting a business, developing social media and exporting.

More services are likely to offer support, co-ordinated by the centre, from other locations across the borough in the forthcoming months.

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