Black Country Growth Hub looks back on 2021

This year has been extremely difficult for a number of local businesses and our dedicated team has been working hard since the beginning of the pandemic to provide the level of support that is needed in the current economic climate.

Our business support team has received over 1,600 enquiries this year from businesses based in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. We have supported a variety of different local and national campaigns and projects to help businesses and entrepreneurs to rebuild after feeling the effects of the pandemic.

We have added a variety of new pages to our website, including targeted support hubs for topics such as COVID-19 and Net Zero. We will regularly update these pages with the latest resources and information as it is made available, our links with local and national Government allow us to maintain a constant stream of up-to-date information.

The BCGH Tender Portal launched earlier in 2021, allowing Black Country businesses to easily access public and private sector contracts across the UK. The portal currently lists over 16,500 opportunities and continues to add more each day with new contracts as they are added on other online sources. Businesses and entrepreneurs can create an account with no costs involved and apply in a matter of minutes.

Our team has been busy helping to manage and recruit for several different business support programmes such as the Experts in Residence programme, the Peer Networks programme, Made Smarter and Help to Grow: Digital.

The Experts in Residence Programme:

Experts in Residence is a unique programme of support exclusively for Black Country businesses who are still within their first 3 years of trading. The programme will match a business with a sector specialist at no cost to support immediate growth concerns and challenges.

Get 1-2-1 direct support with an expert in marketing, finance, bid writing or retail to support growth ambitions. The programme supported a total of 40 businesses, with 14 experts recruited from a range of specialisms in 2021.

The Peer Networks Programme:

As businesses continue to develop and adapt to cope with the challenges and effects of Covid-19, a second National lockdown and new trading environments post UK EU Exit; there has never been a more important time to invest time in business development through working with the people who know business best.

The programme has so far supported just under 100 companies within the Black Country region alone and the feedback we have received has been outstanding. The programme is designed to support senior business leaders and decision makers, for established companies, who have been trading for a minimum of 1 year and turning over in excess of £100,000, in addition to having employees within the business.

The programme is fully funded so there is no cost to join Peer Networks, other than a few hours of individuals time each month. In line with government restrictions, all sessions are delivered virtually.

Made Smarter:

The West Midlands Growth Hubs, in conjunction with WMG and MTC, are leading the way on the Made Smarter Adoption Project. Made Smarter is a national movement to empower the growth of UK makers and advance the UK economy. With the support of Made Smarter, Britain can achieve its aim of becoming a global leader in the creation, adoption and exportation of emerging technologies.

Over 21 black country businesses have registered so far and 4 companies have already received their grant funding as part of their digital transformation journey.

Help To Grow – Digital (Applications closing for January start)

Black Country businesses can access free online support on how technology can boost their business performance. 

The support service will be joined by a voucher scheme, where businesses will be able to apply for a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software, worth up to £5000.

We hope to continue to work hard throughout 2022 to ensure we support the amazing local businesses within the Black Country area. Our support team will be logging off for the holidays from the 23rd December and then we will reopen as normal from the 4th January 2022.

If you’d like to get in touch with our team in the meantime, please do email us at or call us on 0333 070 5805

Happy Holidays from the Black Country Growth Hub team

See you in 2022!