In just one year over 30 small and medium sized business owners have taken advantage of a free service designed to bolster local enterprise, despite the challenging economic climate that they operate in.

The Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group (SREG) has become a bona fide business buddy for small and medium sized businesses in the Skipton and Ripon electoral area. The group gives free bespoke mentoring on a whole host of topics to businesses in Craven, Ripon and the surrounding areas. And on Friday 14 October, SREGs founding members will celebrate its first successful year in operation.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in England, five prominent local business men and women joined forces a year ago to voluntarily give their time and expertise to local businesses in need of experienced advice. They recruited their own personal contacts so that they could together support local enterprises in need of help. From walking the shop floor with owners, through to being at the end of an email or the phone, SREG will do what it takes to support and guide clients through whatever difficulty or opportunity they face. So far, the group has been called upon to help clients adopt strategic business decisions, operations management, digital marketing planning, financial management and much more.

SREG is the brainchild of Alan Halsall who owns Silver Cross in Skipton. Alan said:

“We set up the Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group to ultimately give something back to the area that has supported our individual businesses. Local enterprise is the lifeblood of our communities – providing jobs, income and security in the local economy. But it’s tough establishing a business and statistics show that more businesses fail in their first year than succeed.

“For us if SREG can help just one business to survive then it will all be worthwhile. And if we can help more businesses to really thrive then even better! And after just 12 months, we’ve given our local knowledge, contacts and advice to over 30 businesses. This is an incredible achievement and we’re delighted and proud to do this. Anyone who runs their own business and would like to take advantage of having a mentor, just needs to visit our website and submit the online application form.”

Julian Smith, Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon, said:

“In these challenging financial times, I am delighted this initiative has been able to help over 30 businesses in the Skipton and Ripon area in its first year. I would like to thank the mentors who give their time and expertise voluntarily to help budding businessmen and women in my constituency, and hope that more potential entrepreneurs and growing businesses will take-up the offer of support and advice in the months ahead.”

Interview and photo opportunity:

You are invited to send a reporter and photographer to the birthday celebration of the Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group (SREG) on Friday 14 October at 6pm at Utopia, Broughton Hall, Skipton, BD23 3AE. Here you will be able to speak with the founders, mentors and some local business owners who have been supported by SREG.

Please email Stacey.stothard@skipton.co.uk if you are planning to attend. If you are unable to attend the event, we can supply you a local case study of a business supported by SREG.

More information:

The Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group’s five founders are:

· Alan Halsall, owner and chairman of Silver Cross;

· Jim Bedford, chairman of Wath Group;

· Alex Robinson, a commercial director at Skipton Building Society;

· Roger Tempest owner of the 400-year-old Broughton Hall and founder of the award winning Rural Solutions innovative business park based within the 3,000 acre site;

· Natasha Price, Marketing Consultant and former partner of EuraAuditUK – Accountants and Business Advisors.

Julian Smith MP is the group’s honorary president.

About the Skipton and Ripon electoral constituency:

The Skipton and Ripon constituency is one of the largest in Britain. Covering over 900 square miles it stretches across the Pennine dales of North Yorkshire and a large part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It covers many towns and villages including Ripon, Settle, Sutton-in-Craven, Skipton, Bentham, Masham, Ripon, Pateley Bridge and Grassington.

For more information on the Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group, or to complete an online application for mentoring support, visit www.skiptonandRiponEnterpriseGroup.co.uk.

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