A chance to accelerate your business

Dynamic start-up businesses could win a significant amount of free advertising as the Norwich Evening News today joins forces with entrepreneur and TV dragon Deborah Meaden to back the city's entrepreneurs.

We are launching the Local Business Accelerators scheme – a competition run by newspapers around the country to offer �15m worth of free advertising to fledgling enterprises.

Nearly 500 regional newspapers nationally are taking part, including the Norwich Evening News and its sister papers, the Eastern Daily Press, Yarmouth Mercury, and Lowestoft Journal.

Together, we will search for the nation's most promising young businesses and help them 'accelerate' their success with professional advice from business mentors plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space.

One business, picked from the hundreds of regional winners, will get individual mentoring sessions from Ms Meaden, who will become a consultant and mentor to the business for one year.

Ms Meaden said: 'I've seen the unique contribution that local press makes to the success of local businesses time and again with my own ventures.

'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.'

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The competition is open to all businesses that are active in the local community, between one and three years old and full of potential. They may have a great idea or product, or even found a new market. They are the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and create pride in the community.

Norwich Evening News Editor Tim Williams said: 'Norwich has a great tradition of entrepreneurship, from the abundance of its independent shops to enterprises which have grown from small start-ups to operations which employ hundreds of people and trade around the world.

'These businesses have created jobs in tough times and it is today's innovators who will create the jobs of tomorrow for our community. Small business is the lifeblood of Norwich. As the city's newspaper we are proud to support local companies and we are delighted to be able to give a start-up the chance to accelerate its business.'

Mr Williams will be on the judging panel with Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive Caroline Williams and Archant Norfolk business writer Annabelle Dickson.

Mrs Williams said: 'The success of the small businesses community is key to the growth of Norfolk's economy. Getting seen and known is a key part of attracting new customers so this prize will have an enormous impact on the growth of the winner of this competition.

'I would encourage all small businesses to enter.'

The judges will review and shortlist entries before awarding the prize of free advertising and business advice. They will also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to work with Ms Meaden as a mentor during 2012.

Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, which has organised the competition, said: 'No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like Local Business Accelerators. It's where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.'

Visit www.accelerateme.co.uk for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close on November 14.