By Claire West

Yesterday, the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA) launched its latest policy paper, ‘Putting the ‘E’ in LEPs.’

Events are moving quickly in economic development as the new LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) form, and there is much to be done if they are to make a positive impact on their communities and prevent a damaging vacuum forming following the demise of RDAs and Business Link.
NFEA, the national enterprise network, is concerned that Enterprise is in danger of being crowded out of the agenda.

Local enterprise agencies have a huge role to play in promoting and fostering enterprise, which in turn can create jobs and growth. Setting out ideas of how the NFEA network can support LEP’s with their vitally important, yet vastly challenging undertaking, the paper introduces NFEA and our expertise, built over thirty years at the front line of business support.

Putting the E for Enterprise in LEPs can, at modest cost, have a hugely positive effect on local communities.

Doug Scott, NFEA Chairman, commented, “Local Enterprise Agencies have huge experience of working with people in the process of starting a business and we know a great deal about their wants and needs. Time after time, we receive the same feedback from clients about what they value: independent, positive advice that gives them the confidence that they are on the right track; and, impartial introductions to a network of trusted people in business whether customers, suppliers or professional advisers. NFEA, the enterprise agencies representative organisation, is the only body with independent access to a large part of this shifting population of about 400,000 people each year. While there are many effective voices of business, we believe we can provide the only effective voice of enterprise.”

Key points -
Britain is becoming a small business economy. More than a third of our workforce is employed in small businesses and over 2.5million businesses are based in the owners home.
Small businesses are more innovative, create more jobs and treat employees more fairly.
Despite the rise of the internet, people are seeking more face-to-face support.
A comprehensive and flexible package of advice, training and support should be available to all who seek it.
Independent, locally based and locally managed enterprise agencies are best placed to provide it.