The Minister launched the new £6.5m Business Wales service at the Beacon Centre in Dafen, Llanelli, one of the eleven offices in the pan-Wales network that will provide general and specialist business advice, as well as information and signposting services, to more than 15,000 SMEs a year.
The Minister met a number of small businesses that have already benefited from advice and support from the Welsh Government that helped them to invest and expand their businesses.
She also met representatives from Business in Focus, Centre for Business, Antur Teifi, and Menter a Busnes – the consortium that will deliver the new Business Wales service.
Launching the service the Minister said:
”Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and the Welsh Government wants to ensure they have easy access to a wide range of support services helping them to grow and expand.
“In 2011 SMEs accounted for 99.2% of all business in Wales and were responsible for 60.2% of private sector employment which is why support offered to SMEs in Wales is so important and key to Wales' future economic growth.
“Access to private sector support should also be facilitated through this service, and close partnership working with the wider public, third and private sector should be central to the approach to ensure that delivery of services to SMEs is streamlined and easy to access.
“ The new Business Wales one stop shop service was a recommendation in the Micro Business Report for Wales and I am delighted to officially launch the new dedicated business support service today.”
The service will employ 100 staff across Wales which will include business account officers, general business advisors, mentoring agents and specialist advisors in employment and equality, resource efficiency, international trade and procurement.
The Minister has set up a Business Wales Strategic Board under the chairmanship of Robert Lloyd Griffiths, Director Wales, Institute of Directors, who chaired the Micro-Business task and finish group.
The Strategic Board will provide advice to the Minister, officials and the providers on the delivery and direction of the service and ensure the needs of micro, small and medium sized enterprises are taken into account.
The Board will regularly review and monitor the delivery and impact of the service, promote the service to the business sector, ensure any concerns are dealt with and opportunities seized and monitor and advise on suitable areas for development as appropriate.
Members of the Strategic Board:
Andrea Callanan – Director, Sing and Inspire
Ben Cottam - Head of ACCA Cymru/Wales
Dan Langford - Group Marketing & Communications Director of Acorn
Peter Davies - Commissioner for Sustainable Futures
Robert Chapman - Managing Director, Robert Chapman and Company .