Business Owners Urged To Join Beyond Support Network

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A call has gone out to all business owners in Down District to join a support network aimed at helping them to grow and develop their services and products.

The Beyond Network, which is managed by Down Business Centre on behalf of Down District Council, will be formally launched at a special event on Thursday, August 28.

[caption id="attachment_51442" align="alignleft" width="390"]Colm Magee of Go Again, quality used house items, with Andrea Boyd, Down Business Centre receptionist, and Janice Symington, Down Business Centre general manager withDown District Council Chairman Councillor Billy Walker pictured during the launch of the Beyond programme. Colm Magee of Go Again, quality used house items, with Andrea Boyd, Down Business Centre receptionist, and Janice Symington, Down Business Centre general manager with Down District Council Chairman Councillor Billy Walker pictured during the launch of the Beyond programme.[/caption]

Janice Symington, general manager of Down Business Centre, said: “In the lead-up to the launch date, the Down Business Centre is keen to get the new phase underway by building on the participating levels of the previous Beyond programme, which attracted more than 500 members.

“Business owners are asked to fill in a short questionnaire to join the network and to highlight the areas they believe should be covered by the planned range of services, including direct support from experienced business consultants.

“Over the course of the next year, Beyond will help existing businesses through one-to-one mentoring, workshops, seminars and clinics, signposting of information and both online and offline networking/collaboration.

“It will be open to all businesses, in all sectors, within Down District expanding to Newry & Mourne next year. Among the services offered will be Business Health Checks; Expert mentoring, access to seminars, workshops and networking opportunities.

“Business owners can simply sign up to receive regular information via email or attend workshops and seminars on a range of issues. Participants are free to dip in and out of activities, according to their own areas of interest.”

For those businesses which request specific support, Beyond offers up to six hours mentoring at a subsidised price, allowing them to benefit from the skills, knowledge and experience of approved mentors. Mentors are available across a wide expertise spectrum including Finance Planning; Market planning; Funding Assistance; Tendering; Human Resources; and Innovation and Creativity.

Mrs Symington described the Beyond Network as an “incredibly valuable local resource” and urged all business owners to get involved.

She added: “We have been working as a support agency within the small business sector for thirty years and believe this network has the capability to increase the performances and outputs of businesses at all levels within the district. We are looking forward to the challenge of helping participants to gain the maximum benefits from participating in the network.”

The programme, which will run until June 2015, is financed by Down District Council in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Down District Council chairman Cllr William Walker welcomed the relaunch of the network and said: “The first phase of Beyond was highly successful and was a key element within the Council’s Economic Development strategy. I’m delighted it is now being extended and I’m delighted we are working with Down Business Centre to ensure we reach into all areas of the district.”

Mr Walker added: “As a district we punch above our weight when it comes to starting new businesses. Our record of achievement in this respect within Northern Ireland is exceptionally high, and I believe this support network is the next logical step in ensuring our local businesses are as fully equipped as they can be to tackle what has become a highly competitive business environment.

“I hope our business owners take the opportunity to join us and see what is on offer.”

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