Since they were established last year, Northamptonshire County Council’s innovative Enterprise Hubs have helped almost 700 new entrepreneurs on their way to starting businesses with 30 of these already trading.
The Enterprise Hubs, which are run by libraries working together with Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), are helping redefine what the traditional notion of a library is.
Established in April 2012, this year the hubs won a prestigious EDGE 2013 award which highlights and promotes innovative and creative library projects.
By working with partners, training library staff and imaginatively adapting library spaces, the Enterprise Hubs offer coaching, advice and access to facilities (meeting rooms, IT, knowledge and information) to people interested in developing a business idea and taking it to market.
They also offer workshops and one-to-one advice on legal and tax issues, marketing and financial control to help customers who might not have considered self-employment or entrepreneurship otherwise.
New businesses have started trading in areas ranging from cleaning services to gardening and from creative arts to children’s entertainment – about 10 per cent of all the county’s start-ups in that period.
By the end of January 2014 it is expected that the total number of new business start-ups the hubs have assisted with will stand at 50.
A true success story
Leader of Northamptonshire County Council Councillor, Jim Harker, said: “This is a true success story which has seen our libraries work together with Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership to take an entrepreneurial approach by identifying the economy as an area of need and spotting a gap in the market to offer business start-up advice through the Enterprise Hubs.
“We have put prosperity high on our agenda because we know the people of Northamptonshire have the economy and employment opportunities at the top of their agenda.
“The Enterprise Hubs are a service that makes a real difference to people by enabling them to help themselves by offering aspiring entrepreneurs the advice they need to kickstart their new businesses. Libraries are at the heart of the county’s communities and are ideally placed to support local people as they turn their ideas into a reality.”
Fiona Ozdemir, who project manages NEP’s role in the initiative, said: “Talking things through with a professional who understands the challenges associated with starting and running a business can be highly liberating. The Enterprise Hub has enabled 700 Northamptonshire entrepreneurs to do just that, from the earliest stages of advancement and beyond, and NEP is delighted to work together with libraries colleagues to make it happen.”
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