The 'Local Business Accelerators' campaign launches today (19 October). It intends to provide advertising space and business mentoring to around 1,500 businesses.
The initiative will be promoted through press ads, designed by creative agency St Luke's, in nearly 500 regional and local newspapers.
All businesses between one and three years old that are active in their local community can apply for ad space through an online application form at www.accelerateme.co.uk.
The initiative is supported by all members of the Newspaper Society, including the majors Trinity Mirror, Newsquest, Johnston Press, Northcliffe, Archant as well as smaller groups like the KM Group and Midland News Association.
All of the participating newspapers will donate free advertising space and depending on the needs of the business many newspapers will also help with print ad design or web design as well.
Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society and chairman of the KM Group, said: "The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press.
"No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like this. It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities."
The campaign has been supported by PR agency Frank PR, which has recruited Deborah Meaden, businesswoman and judge in the BBC show 'Dragon’s Den', to act as the national ambassador for Local Business Accelerators.
Businesses have until 14 November to enter and one overall winning business will be chosen from hundreds of regional winners to receive business support from Meaden throughout 2012.
Meaden said: "In this age of enterprise it has never been more important to drive awareness about the value of local marketing for a fledgling business, which is why I’m so proud to support Local Business Accelerators and help build thriving and industrious communities."
The initiative has the support of David Cameron, the prime minister, who said: "The Local Business Accelerators campaign will help provide the boost that our smaller British businesses need right now.
"By joining forces to launch this excellent initiative, local newspapers are demonstrating their commitment and providing exactly the sort of practical, hands-on support that will help young local businesses succeed and grow.
"Those that will benefit from the initiative are the very businesses and entrepreneurs that will help to lead Britain’s recovery. I want to thank all those involved for taking part and to wish you every success with this important campaign."
The St Luke's team that created the ads included copywriter Ed Redgrave and art director David Wigglesworth. The creative director is Al Young and the planner was Dan Hulse.
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