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Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART, shared a platform with Andy Street, Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Managing Director of John Lewis, at a recent breakfast briefing on ‘Using the Public Purse to Unlock Private Finance’ hosted by Birmingham Forward and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
In his keynote address Andy Street told the audience of accountants and business professionals that the role of the GBSLEP was to facilitate growth and support activity that improved the economic prospects of the region. With continued public sector spending cuts making a significant impact Street outlined to guests in his presentation his belief that collaboration and innovation are the way to get the economy moving. He went on to detail the ways in which private sector funding can leverage a public sector contribution and gave examples of how this is being done in the region. It was this strategy he said that would get large infrastructure projects started, breathe new life into a number of stalled projects, as well as provide funding streams for small to medium sized businesses looking to grow.
In his presentation, Steve Walker explained how ART had used private sector money to leverage public sector funding enabling the Government’s policy objective – the provision of access to finance for businesses - to be delivered through ART as a financial intermediary. ART’s main aim, he explained, is to provide access to loan finance for businesses unable to fulfill their financial requirements from the banks, with a mission to support job creation and preservation in the Greater Birmingham area. Walker endorsed the need for joint working in order to support businesses seeking to access finance.
In a lively questions session, both speakers also agreed that improved signposting to sources of funding and support was a vital need for both businesses and professional advisors and the engagement of a team from Birmingham Forward to work with the GBSLEP team on its web-based portal was welcomed. The potential to seek new philanthropic capital support was also highlighted as a potential boost to joint working.
Both Birmingham Forward and ACCA have identified access to finance as a key issue for their members and the subject of dedicated workstreams.
Copies of the presentations by Andy Street and Steve Walker are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information about ACCA see www.accaglobal.com
For further information about Birmingham Forward see www.birminghamforward.co.uk
For further information about the GBSLEP see www.gbslepbusinesssupport.com