The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

South Ayrshire Council signs up to support entrepreneurial bright sparks

Budding entrepreneurs in Ayrshire are set to receive a fantastic boost in 2012 – and beyond – as South Ayrshire Council has agreed to part fund a fantastic new and fully expensed support unit for new businesses.

The Council has agreed to contribute £50,000 year, over three years, with the same commitment being made by East Ayrshire Council and a similar decision is expected soon from North Ayrshire Council.

The new support unit, dubbed ‘The Ayrshire Spark’ will offer budding entrepreneurs a head start in developing their businesses, by providing high quality accommodation on one site, business services, mentoring and guidance all free of charge.

[The Entrepreneurial Spark is very well supported by businessman Sir Tom Hunter, pictured above.]

Jim Duffy, from the same team headed by Willie Haughey’s ‘Entrepreneurial Spark’ in Glasgow, will lead the Ayrshire Spark, aiming to maximise the chances for businesses in Ayrshire to succeed, enhance their long-term prospects, and increase opportunities for local employment.

The Entrepreneurial Spark is very well supported by businessman Sir Tom Hunter, whose wide and well established network of contacts and collaborations will also be made available to the new businesses at the Ayrshire Spark.

Support mechanisms for businesses already exist, through the Business Gateway, to encourage start-up with advice and guidance provided.

The Ayrshire Spark will complement this service by offering a dedicated, free of charge, ‘on-site’ solution to local business pioneers, whose new ideas and drive can be stifled due to the prohibitive early costs of overheads, capital and resources.

A dedicated 4,000 square foot office area will be fitted out providing high quality business accommodation with state-of-the-art modern facilities, located at The Hunter Foundation building in Dundonald.

The fit out costs of £200,000 will be met in full by the Hunter Foundation and the annual operational costs of £365,000 will be met with £215,000 from the Foundation and the three Councils’ combined contribution of £150,000.

Lesley Bloomer, South Ayrshire Council’s Executive Director for Development and Environment said: “The Ayrshire Spark is a very exciting concept, offering extensive support to local entrepreneurs to turn a germ of an idea into a fully functioning, profitable business, creating wealth and jobs for the Ayrshire economy.

“Sir Tom Hunter’s reputation allows him to pull on a range of contacts from the world of marketing, accountancy, law, academia and the media, to ensure individuals have mentors and ambassadors, who will support and encourage them, passing on their invaluable expertise and allowing access to their business networks.

“It’s fantastic news for Ayrshire and I’m delighted we can make a commitment to this excellent initiative which has long-term benefits for all of us.”

Places at the Ayrshire Spark will be allocated through an informal application and interview process and applicants will need to demonstrate a high level of commitment, be prepared to work hard, and demonstrate a real passion for succeeding in a competitive environment.

Referrals will also be made by the Business Gateway and between 20 and 30 spaces will be made available in the first intake. Applications can also be made via:

David Anderson, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council (pictured above) added: “This is a really exciting development for the three Ayrshire areas and, in terms of new business support, it really does not get better than this.

“In a short space of time, the Entrepreneurial Spark has delivered excellent results for a host of new businesses in the Glasgow area and almost forty successful case studies can already be viewed on their website.

“Having this sort of facility on our doorstep gives our local entrepreneurs an unprecedented opportunity to access and benefit from a wealth of essential resources, mentoring and strategic planning and I’m pleased to welcome and support such an outstanding concept.”

Sir Tom Hunter concluded: “I’m pleased to offer the facilities at Dundonald to help support and drive business start-ups in Ayrshire, which is ten minutes in all directions from the three key Ayrshire towns of Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine.

“The Entrepreneurial Spark is already producing superb results in helping a range of Scottish businesses flourish at home and abroad.

“I want the new facility to take its lead from this success and the experienced team behind it, to rapidly become a hotbed of talent and enduring excellence for dynamic, hard working local entrepreneurs, who want to make their own mark in the business world.”

The Ayrshire Spark launches on Wednesday 16 May 2012 and applications are now being welcomed.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

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