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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Enterprising women dominate Local Business Accelerators shortlist

Women dominate the shortlist for Local Business Accelerators, the scheme backed by The Cumberland News that boosts the fortunes of fledgling Cumbrian enterprises.

Vicki Hoskins photo
Jeni Banks

Three businesses from north Cumbria will each win £10,000 worth of free advertising in The Cumberland News and our sister title the News & Star.

They also get free mentoring from some of the leading lights of Cumbrian business.

Entries been whittled down to a shortlist of six who have been invited to pitch to our panel of judges next week. The three winners will be announced soon afterwards. The shortlisted businesses are:

  • Acorn Marketing, at Brougham Hall near Penrith, launched in May 2011 when Lisa Coates set up her own marketing consultancy after being made redundant from a high-flying post in Liverpool.
  • The Cake Workshop, which runs cake-decorating classes, began life in Milton Keynes in 2009 but moved to Warwick Mill, near Carlisle, when owner Vicki Hoskins relocated to Cumbria in 2010.
  • Eden Rock is a dedicated indoor-climbing centre at Durranhill, Carlisle. Michael Stainthorpe and Katie Mundy launched the business in 2011 although the centre opened only last month.
  • Give it Gifts, in Front Street, Brampton, set up by Jayne Gardiner in 2009. The shop and website – www.giveitgifts.net – specialise in original and unusual gifts.
  • May Fifteen, a membership-based business-networking company launched by Jeni Banks, of Wetheral, in 2010, initially in north Cumbria but now in south west Scotland too.
  • Upper Eden Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit business that took over Kirkby Stephen’s tourist information centre, now known as the Upper Eden Visitor Centre, after Eden Council withdrew funding.

Businesses between one and five years old were eligible to enter.

The scheme is sponsored by Armstrong Watson and the University of Cumbria.

Judges include Grant Smith, a partner with Armstrong Watson; Michele Lawty-Jones, enterprise and business relations manager at the university; Katie Milbourn of Walby Farm Park; Chris Reay of Reays Coaches; and Charles Watt of Cranstons Quality Butchers.

Cumbrian Newspapers’ advertisement director Charlie Birrell and business editor Julian Whittle complete the line-up.

Local Business Accelerators is a national initiative run by the Newspaper Society.

In addition to the north Cumbrian winners, there will be three in the west of the county and three in the south.

Nationally, 500 newspapers are offering £15m of free advertising and mentoring.

The most promising local winners go forward to the national stage where they could win a year’s mentoring from Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden and a local-advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.

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