Launch of Solent Growth Hub wins MP’s praise

A new business support service from a partnership involving Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has won the praise of Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Solent Growth Hub is a one-stop-shop that signposts companies and entrepreneurs in the Solent region towards grant funding, training and other support.

Visitors to can access details of national and local phone helplines and face-to-face business support, mentoring and coaching.

The hub is being delivered as part of a £2.5 million Regional Growth Fund bid. The funding was unlocked following confirmation of the wider City Deal agreed between the government and the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.

Mrs Dinenage, a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, praised the new service when she attended a Meet the Buyer business matchmaking day at the Ageas Bowl.

She said: “The hub will help businesses through those crucial first couple of years. It will give them the backup they need to navigate the first few years which is when they look to grow. It’s really valuable and I’m really proud that our area has one of the first growth hubs in the country.”

Hampshire Chamber is delivering the hub following the funding bid from a consortium of partners led by the University of Portsmouth.

Denise Barlow, Hampshire Chamber’s Head of Projects, said: “The hub will support innovation, growth and enterprise in the Solent region by providing access to expertise and specialist services. It is designed to help ambitious businesses implement their growth strategies.”

Other consortium members are Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton city councils, Isle of Wight Council, University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and UK Trade & Investment.

Also involved in delivery is the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Business Alliance (HIBA), a grouping of private sector support organisations.

As well as the Chamber, HIBA comprises the Hampshire and Isle of Wight offices of the British Marine Federation, the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Enterprise Alliance.

Consolidating sources of business support into hubs or one-stop-shops was one of the recommendations put forward by Lord Heseltine in his No Stone Unturned report on how best to stimulate regional economies.