Walsall’s ‘start-up’ credentials were on show when Bruce George MP was given a guided tour of 34 Green Lane, the area’s first dedicated enterprise hub.
The MP for Walsall South was looking at the opportunities for support available for local people to launch new companies and was impressed with what he saw.
He met bosses from enterprise charity Breathing Space, training provider BETL and Charles Chance, one of the facility’s youngest entrepreneurs and director of IT specialist Cloud Net, to discuss what entrepreneurs needed to be successful and the challenges facing them.
The issues of accessing finance, more specialist support and the importance of incubator space to allow young businesses to grow were all mentioned during the debate, not to mention the ability for individuals to be given greater access to personal development.
Glennys Davis, general manager of Breathing Space, said: “Our main focus is on helping disadvantaged people move into self-employment, with many of our clients suffering from confidence issues, perhaps as a result of long-term unemployment or redundancy.
“We work with individuals to overcome these problems by offering personal development support, expert mentoring and access to our highly regarded enterprise training course, not to mention sign-posting to other organisations, such as the Prince’s Trust and Business Link West Midlands.
“The fact that we have helped more than 15,000 people speaks volumes for our success rate.”
She added: “It was great to be able to show Mr George around our new offices at 34 Green Lane and for him to meet people involved in the enterprise hub.”
During the visit, the MP for Walsall South also met Mike Lee from new enterprise training company Bringing Enterprise to Life, as well as Cloud Net’s Charles Chance.
The latter is a former Breathing Space employee turned entrepreneur and is now heading up one of the area’s fastest-growing IT and communications specialist.
His experience of working with the charity stood him in good stead for being his own boss and he has subsequently received support in securing the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer qualification.
“Cloudnet, which uses ‘cloud’ or ‘grid’ technology to provide flexible telephone hosting, is going from strength to strength and I’m delighted we have been able to move into new accommodation at Green Lane and be in a position to support Breathing Space,” said Mr Chance.
“They have given me a lot of support and guidance over the years and all of this knowledge has been put to the test in starting the business and moving it to the next stage.
“We have already taken on three new people and are in talks with a number of global players keen to take advantage of our revolutionary Cloud Net Connect platform. David Hill has also joined the board to help with the continued expansion.”
Mr George said he was impressed with what was being achieved.
“With so many traditional industries suffering in Walsall and surrounding areas, we really need the next generation of entrepreneurs to stand up and be counted and Breathing Space and 34 Green Lane will be essential in supporting this drive.
“The enterprise hub has all the facilities a new business could want. I personally saw how two businesses are flourishing in the current economic climate, which is great news.
“This is what Walsall needs to ensure that we emerge strongly from the difficulties that we have encountered, not only in the UK but worldwide.”