Network to be beating heart for businesses
Banff is helping to pioneer a new initiative that aims to support businesses and boost the economic regeneration of the area.
Aberdeenshire Council has been working in partnership with the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen to launch the Libraries Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA).
It will provide local firms and entrepreneurs who are starting or looking to develop their company by providing space to work and facilities including wi-fi and printing; access to support and information, free skills development workshops and the chance to network with others in the business community.
The network service was launched at Banff library on Monday, which is one of the first to open.
RGU's head of entrepreneurship and innovation Chris Moule, who has helped spearhead the project for the university, said: "We recognised early on that in city centres there is a wealth of facilities for businesses and entrepreneurs to access.
"However, their rural counterparts didn't have that available to them.
"We saw the opportunity to develop a programme of cooperative and collaborative spaces in under used library spaces, which are at the heart of communities.
"Working with Aberdeenshire Council we have been able to develop opportunities to provide these local facilities, which will include training programmes and information and advice.
"The scheme will support business start-ups, as well as established companies who are looking to grow or develop new products or services.
"It will also provide an opportunity for people to share ideas and best practice."
The network facilities will be able to be accessed at Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead libraries.
Funding for the initiative has been provided through the rural Leader programme.
One businesswoman who is set to benefit from the network is Tracie Lovie of Banff-based firm Diversity Energy Solutions.
She said: "I quite often use library spaces to do work when I am out of the office, so to have this dedicated network is going to be great.
"As well as the facilities we will be able to use the workshops that will be held which will be very beneficial and provide more help to grow businesses."
The free one-day business workshops will start at Banff Library on Friday, October 25 from 9.30am-4.30pm and will be repeated on Fridays for six weeks after that.
Banff and District councillor Michael Roy, who is vice-chairman of the council's communities committee, urged local businesses to make the most of the new facilities.
He said: "This is an opportunity that can't be missed.
"It is going to be a significant resource for new and existing businesses.
"It will provide support for firms starting out and solve any problems they may have, but also give advice to those looking to expand.
"This has to be welcomed as it will bring a huge economic boost to the regeneration of the area.
"I hope local businesses take advantage of it, as it will be very worthwhile for them."
For more information on LINA visit www.rgu.ac.uk/lina