Business Support Center celebrates milestone after securing over 25,000 jobs


One of Greater Manchester’s most important business organizations marks a milestone after helping to create more than 13,600 jobs and save 12,000 more over the past decade.

The GC Business Growth Hub is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month after experiencing phenomenal success since its launch.

Since its inception, the hub has also generated more than £ 228 million in financing offers for small and medium-sized businesses in Greater Manchester, while helping them save two million tonnes of carbon.

READ MORE: Covid-19 testing company DAM Health to create more than 350 jobs

SMEs have also saved £ 550million in energy, material and item costs, thanks to the hub’s efforts.

In an exclusive interview with BusinessLive, director Janine Smith lifts the veil on how the hub was set up, the work it does and its plans for the future.

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Ms Smith said: “When we first settled in, it followed the closure of the North West Development Agency to the National Business Link Network.

“At the end of the day, there was no real consistency across the business support landscape.

“Greater Manchester decided they wanted to create their own hub and the first two years that followed focused on trying to work with different stakeholders and the private sector to persuade everyone that it could be mutually beneficial. .

“After a few years, we got seed funding from The Growth Company to set ourselves up as a first step, and then we started to attract funding from central government and Manchester itself. This allowed us to start supporting businesses.

“I joined in 2013 to manage delivery. There were five of us at that time and we are now over 200.

former Oldham Council chief Sean Fielding;  Janine Smith, Director of Business Growth - GC Business Growth Center;  Hilary Centeleghe, Startup & Growth Manager - GC Business Growth Hub;  the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham;  and Matthew Dooley - Former Business Director at People Plus
former Oldham Council chief Sean Fielding; Janine Smith, Director of Business Growth – GC Business Growth Center; Hilary Centeleghe, Startup & Growth Manager – GC Business Growth Hub; the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham; and Matthew Dooley – Former Business Director at People Plus

“We have been through tremendous growth challenges, but during this period we have been able to attract funds which have enabled us to provide support to meet the varied needs of Manchester businesses at different times.

“The main priorities at the moment are everything related to the environment, innovation and support around that, including supply chains.

“Coming out of Covid, we were able to modify what we deliver to meet the specific needs of the region right now.

“We are constantly looking to find out who is providing the support, such as our staff or external organizations that have more expertise in certain areas.

“We also make sure we stay on top of what we can offer businesses to help them move forward.

“We have been able to remain agile enough to consistently meet the needs of Greater Manchester businesses. “

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When asked to summarize the hub’s work, she added: “If anyone wants advice, whether it’s starting a business, growing one or helping to understand an area Whether it’s people, bringing a new product to market or sales, we have expertise that can help a business on that journey.

“If we can’t provide the support, we’ll always point to an organization that can.

“We always try to be very nimble and we work closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and LEP.

“We are constantly working with them to try to understand what policies are out there, what Greater Manchester is trying to achieve and then how we can put those policies into practice.

Janine Smith, Director of GC Business Growth Hub
Janine Smith, Director of GC Business Growth Hub

“We still have two years of European funding, so over the next 24 months we will focus on what we do in terms of supporting the 2038 carbon neutral commitment.

“We will be supporting the Clean Air Zone, so for businesses that cannot access the grants and loans that will be available through TFGM, we would be a dedicated department to support these organizations.”

Ms Smith started working for a real estate developer following the Manchester IRA bombing in the 1990s.

After a few years she took a “big leap” and moved on to teaching, but it didn’t take long for her to support Northwestern businesses.

“I first worked as a sales and marketing manager at real estate developer Bellway,” said Ms. Smith.

“It was just as Manchester city center was redeveloping in the wake of the IRA bomb.

“Then I moved on to teaching, which was a big leap.

“I started in a high school before entering a college but with that, it supported a lot of companies

“I provided training in leadership and management or human-type skills in companies and taught young people between 16 and 18 years old.

“I worked very closely with Business Link at the time. It was really a natural evolution.

“Initially, I started advising companies on what to do in terms of leadership or investing in people.”

Regarding the hub’s plans for the future, she said: “We are about to launch a new initiative with the combined authority and each of the four universities in Greater Manchester, called Bee Leaders.

“The idea is that there will be something out there that everyone can access to meet their specific needs and learning styles.

“It’s going to be launched in January.”


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