Mentors will aid the winners of contest

EXPERT business advisers are preparing to be personal mentors for three victorious fledgling firms during the Matlock Mercury’s Local Business Accelerator competition.

The newspaper is running the competition, offering advertising packages worth thousands of pounds and mentoring deals as prizes for the top three winners to raise their profiles and boost business.

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive George Cowcher and Visit Peak District and Derbyshire chief executive David James will be joining a judging panel and offering guidance and advice for our three LBA winners over four months.

Mr Cowcher said: “I’m passionate about the development of new business talent.

“I’ve seen how many businesses have grown from small beginnings into some of our largest employers and best-known brands.

“I’m looking forward to passing on my experience and expertise to the businesses who will create jobs and drive economic growth in Derbyshire and beyond.”

Mr Cowcher is also chairman of the International Trade Group and the British Chamber of Commerce and was the North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive between 2002 and 2006.

After graduating in Business Studies, he began his career with Grand Metropolitan Brewery in London, before moving to the USA for three years. On returning to the UK, he spent five years in Sheffield, working as commercial and marketing manager for the city’s Arena, Ponds Forge and Don Valley Stadium, before a spell as Marketing Director at Nottingham’s City Arena and National Ice Centre.

The lure of the Peak District and Derbyshire became too strong and he joined the new tourist board in August 2005.

As well as mentoring, The Mercury’s LBA competition winner will receive an advertising package worth £7277, while the second and third places will land and in free advertising of £3,847 and £3,029 respectively.

The competition was launched on October 20 as part of the Newspaper Society’s LBA national scheme and companies fitting the right criteria are urged to enter before a November 14 deadline.