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Superfast Blackpool duo to take business into the fast lane - and inspire other Lancashire firms to do the same

Press Release   •   May 12, 2014 00:00 BST

Superfast Lancashire event set to help county businesses embrace new high-speed fibre broadband 

A new superfast Blackpool double act is to take centre stage to help send Lancashire businesses into the digital age.

Chris Maine and Shaun Bennett, who are two local businessmen already taking full advantage of all things digital, will be sharing their own unique insights and spelling out the benefits of new technology at an event on Thursday, May 22.

‘Get Your Business Superfast’ is the third free event for eligible small and medium businesses to be organised by Superfast Lancashire’s Leyland-based Business Support team.

Superfast Lancashire is the multi-million pound partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT – which will extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of Lancashire’s homes and businesses by the end of 2015 – with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, as well as the European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council.

The event takes place at the De Vere Heron’s Reach Golf Spa Hotel and Resort and will also include a stand-out performance from Dragon’s Den winner Kirsty Henshaw, whose ground-breaking food products are already flying off the shelves in shops in Lytham St Anne’s and Blackpool.

Chris’s packaging business, Direct Paper Agents Ltd, has been going from strength to strength and he hopes his latest two-year plan will push his company’s revenue through the one million pound barrier. He has fired up his business with social media, Cloud financing and website know-how and recently became the 100th business to complete the Superfast Lancashire Business Support Programme.

He said: “A real eye opener for us was how managing your business reputation online can help to boost sales. They were able to show us effective ways of promoting the business online – spending just 15 minutes a day. The end result is customers come looking for you rather than you having to go looking for them.”

Armed with more technical knowledge, the business has now invested in a new computerised sales ordering system which Chris believes will save the company around £10,000 a year in cost efficiencies.

Shaun, managing director at Links Signs and Graphics, calculated that adopting all the technology on offer has helped increase his bottom line.

Shaun said: “Free access to a fantastic amount of expertise – why wouldn’t you? In 2007 Blackpool was highlighted by the government as having one of the lowest number of self-employed businesses against population head in the UK.

“Some years on from that Superfast Lancashire is now providing excellent business support advising on the use of websites, the Cloud and different methods of business promotion, all on offer at the Get Your Business Superfast sessions. The great thing is it’s all free of charge when you’d normally expect to pay thousands of pounds for this type of expert advice. You can pick and choose what suits you. Just using Twitter and Facebook, following on from our Superfast sessions has brought in an order from The Eurotunnel company and a very strong inquiry from Porsche Motorsport.”

An opening session features Dr Nicola Millard, a BT futurologist, who will deliver a unique glimpse into what might lie around the corner for businesses and their customers. In addition to the keynote speakers, the day will include expert taster sessions on: learning from winning websites; how to build your business around super-fast broadband; using social media and using web-based business tools.

Business can sign up for free for all of the day’s sessions on the Superfast Lancashire website: www.superfastlancashire.com .

Tony Morgan, Superfast Lancashire’s head of business engagement at the business centre said, “The experience of DPA and Links Signs and Graphics is typical of many of the local firms who go through the programme and they are proof that even the most traditional of companies can benefit. Also that the latest technology isn’t just for the creative industries, but that new online ways of working can benefit everyone

“More than 500 businesses have signed up for the Business Support Centre sessions since its launch last summer and almost 200 of them have completed the programme so far.”
Councillor Amy Cross, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for IT, added: “Blackpool businesses have a real chance to propel themselves in to the 21st century with superfast broadband.

“But it will only be successful if they’re able to make the most out of it, as well as the other internet-based tools available to them such as website design and digital marketing.

“This event will allow local companies to find out how to get the most out of superfast broadband and help them to grow their businesses.”

[ends]

Issued by the BT regional press office and Lancashire County Council press office. For more information please contact Graham Taylor at the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660, email: graham.2.taylor@bt.com or Andy Swain at Lancashire County Council press office on 01772 532781, email: andy.swain@lancashire.gov.uk
All BT news releases can be accessed at: http://www.bt.com/newscentre

Notes to Editors
Superfast Lancashire’s Business Support Programme is governed by eligibility criteria defined by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) based on size, primary activity, turnover etc. Businesses will be expected to complete an initial short self-certification form which will be validated by one of the advisors.
The programme will link with other key support initiatives across Lancashire. This will enable businesses to gain from the extended benefits of complementary programmes such as Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, subject to not having exceeded their ERDF allowance.
The Business Support Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in partnership with Superfast Lancashire.
BT is contributing £30 million to the project whilst £10.8 million will come from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), £16.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £5.2 million from local councils (£4.7m from LCC, £300,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Council and £230,000 from Blackpool Council.
This project is part financed by the North West European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit

https://www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-and-resources#north-west

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk