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As you may have heard Nick Clegg was in Stockport a couple of weeks ago and while he was here he took time out to meet with local business representatives for a round table discussion on business growth in the town.

Hosted at Gorvins, the meeting was attended by business owners, educational representatives, local council members and myself, in my capacity as President of Stockport Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting followed a recent report commissioned by the BBC which showed that the proportion of new business in Stockport has increased more than anywhere else in the north-west, with 2,335 new firms being established in the last two years.   Great news for a town that recently hit the headlines for our apparently high level of vacant retail units.

So, the Deputy Prime Minister was keen to hear first-hand people’s experiences of launching their own businesses and was genuinely interested in understanding more about the issues they had faced along the way.

The biggest issue raised was funding. In the current economic climate securing start-up funding is the biggest barrier to getting a new business off the ground and it can be difficult to find out what funding is available and how to access it.

There was also discussion on the role of education and apprenticeship schemes in encouraging business growth (watch this space for details of an upcoming scheme led by the Chamber of Commerce encouraging businesses to engage with education).

Hearing the comments around the table from both those who have been there done that’ and from Nick Clegg, it is clear that new businesses across the country face similar challenges.

We are very fortunate in Stockport to have a number of bodies committed to encouraging economic growth in the town. The Council, the Economic Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce are all actively involved in supporting local businesses with initiatives such as the recently launched Business Challenge Fund.  But what else could we do? If you are thinking of, or have recently started, a new business what challenges have you faced and what support would you like to see for new business ventures?

Email me at or message me on Twitter @Mancier.