City region libraries to drive small business growth

A business support programme based at Central Library in Liverpool that has already helped more than 3,000 entrepreneurs is to be extended across the city region. Tony McDonough reports

Central Library
Central Library in William Brown Street, Liverpool

 

A -based library project that has already helped more than 3,000 people in Liverpool to start or grow a business is to be rolled out across the city region.

Six years ago the Business & IP Centre Liverpool (BIPC Liverpool) was launched in Central Library in the city centre. It offered entrepreneurs look to start a business, or grow an existing one, access to a range of specialist support services.

Since then BIPC Liverpool has provided a vital lifeline for entrepreneurs in the city. The have been able to access dedicated workspaces, business resources and expert support. It has also worked closely with the city region Enterprise Hub programme run by The Women’s Organisation.

Now the programme is being extended to other libraries across Liverpool city region, including Allerton in south Liverpool, Crosby, Huyton and Birkenhead. Funds from the expansion have come from a £13m Government spending pledge via the British Library’s national BIPC network.

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said:  “BIPC Liverpool is a brilliant success story and has provided a huge amount of support to countless individuals. The concept of providing help anyone with a business idea, regardless of their background, is social value in action.

“What’s hugely encouraging is that over half of those who have benefited and set up a businesses are women and a third are from ethnic backgrounds – more than triple the national averages for business ownership in the UK.

“This is largely due to the accessibility and community-based ethos of library-based business support. I’m delighted to see that the success of BIPC Liverpool will now be replicated across the city region enabling many, many more people to benefit.”

St. Helens and Allerton libraries. Each will be equipped with a core set of resources including a powerful range of free business databases, provided by the British Library.

Liverpool Central Library
Richard Horrocks, a specialist officer at Liverpool Central Library
Joanne Anderson
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson. Picture by Liverpool City Council

 

There will also be a programme of events, workshops and one-to-one advice sessions delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, professional advisors, successful entrepreneurs and community partners.

Its collaboration with Enterprise Hub, launched in December 2015 as a single-door access point to advise and support entrepreneurs, has also proved valuable. The libraries’ role within the project has been to engage more potential entrepreneurs.

In an interview with LBN in 2018, Richard Horrocks, a specialist officer at Liverpool Central Library, said the accessibility and visibility offered by the library has been a major factor in the success of the Enterprise Hub.

“In some cases people have come into the library for other reasons and had not, until that point, looked at starting their own businesses – they had seen what we were offering and that had inspired them to speak to one of our advisors,” said Richard.

Liz Jolly, chief librarian at the British Library, also said: “At their heart, libraries are trusted spaces with professional staff who have a mission to connect people with information. Our BIPC Network harnesses the power of libraries, bringing in expertise from the local community to help people from all walks of life turn an idea into a successful business.”

Details of individual library opening times and range of BIPC services can be found at www.liverpool.gov.uk/bipc

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