A radical shake up of the Business Link service has failed to convince business leaders in the Black Country about its merits.
Advantage West Midlands plans to overhaul the present network into a regional portal instead of being administered through local chambers of commerce.
Earlier this year AWM was accused of control freakery over the shake up, which will see advice and financial aid being handed out on a sector not a geographical basis.
Although John Reader, chief operating officer of Black Country Chamber & Business Link, backed down from his earlier criticism yesterday, he said AWM still had to make a better case for the changes.
He said: "The Chamber and its Business Link arm are acknowledged as the best source of initial business advice, albeit in a fragmented market.
"We maintain that the case has not been made out for a totally sectoral system of business support delivery.
"There needs to be a ubiquitous offer across the Black Country to small businesses.
"We have always accepted that sector-based support is a necessary element in the whole package of business support, but it should follow on from an initial local contact."
Mr Reader added that he was pleased to see AWM acknowledged the importance of local partnerships between business support services, the education service, regeneration companies and voluntary groups and the private sector.
He said: "This partnership working, which is in line with Government policy, is something we are good at and proud of in the Black Country.
"The way for that to continue is to make sure business support services maintain a strong local presence."
The changes, which are due to come into effect in 2007, follow a review by the Enterprise Board, a group of business professionals and entrepreneurs which advises AWM.
Under the proposals businesses will initially contact a regional gateway where their business need will be assessed before they are passed to an appropriate adviser.
They will then receive either core business support or if they are a company in a sector important to the regional economy, more in- depth knowledge and specialist backing.
The changes follow findings that only 33 per cent of companies identified Business Links, while many firms sought an increased awareness of what was on offer and a more sector specific service.
Many companies said the current Business Link scheme was too generalist, with respondents to a survey saying take up would be increased by 13 per cent if a sector-led approach was adopted.
Dr Ahmed Hassam, chairman of the Regional Enterprise Board, said: "If business support is to help the region become a hotbed of enterprise, then the support currently on offer has to change.
"Too few companies are accessing the business support on offer, especially highgrowth companies which will generate more wealth creation for the economy in years to come.
"Companies tell us they are put off accessing business support because they find the current structure to be a fragmented and confusing network and the quality of support they receive is variable.
" A regionally- managed model means that, in future, businesses will be able to access expertise from across the region rather than being constrained by the expertise available within their particular local area.
"For businesses it important they feel they are getting the service they need, rather than where that service comes from but we do not intend to throw the baby out with the bath water."