Happy new year! As you may have heard, Sandwell Council – led by Think Sandwell in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton – has set up a special advice centre to help large and small companies improve their business performance.
Sandwell Business Solutions Centre (SBSC) is based at the CAP Centre on Windmill Lane in Smethwick.
It includes a state-of-the-art training suite for building information modelling (BIM) courses – the first facility of its kind launched by any council in the country.
BIM is set to transform the way the construction supply chain works, with clients and suppliers sharing digital-engineered designs and building efficiency data.
Tom Watson MP, Sandwell Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper, and cabinet member for regeneration and economic investment Councillor Paul Moore officially opened the centre on Friday 11 December.
SBSC provides local businesses with a single point of contact for accessing innovative business solutions. It offers tailored business advice and support to all types of businesses, from start-up companies to large established organisations.
The centre aims to provide a collaborative and innovative approach to improving business performance and is designed to make a positive economic impact on Sandwell and surrounding areas.
Councillor Darren Cooper said: “This is a very important project as the council is always striving to help local businesses to thrive and to support them to use the skills of local workers for the benefit of the area during these difficult economic times.
“The Sandwell area and the wider Black Country is famous for its manufacturing works and there have been many examples of start-up firms growing into larger companies to provide high quality goods and of course much-needed job opportunities.
“We are particularly anxious to help the smaller businesses in the borough to thrive by offering them top quality advice and information.”
The new centre will offer:
People can get information about the services available to develop an existing business – such as professional consultancy and market/product research and innovation services. They can find out about industry-specific and generic networking events.
Residents thinking about starting a business can be guided through all the stages they need to think about when establishing a new venture. Experts will advise them on the products/services available to support a new business idea.
Experts will offer market intelligence to support the identification of new business opportunities. They will advise people on how to take advantage of these opportunities either as a start-up business, or when growing an existing business.
The service will also support businesses in accessing a wide range of funding.
BIM technology and skills development
For three days per week the centre will work with an expert to deliver BIM courses. BIM is set to transform the way the construction supply chain works, creating a universal means for sharing digital-engineered designs and building efficiency data between clients and suppliers. From April 2016 all public-sector capital-build projects must comply with BIM Level 2.
With the mandatory requirements on the horizon SBSC will offer both public and private sector clients an affordable way to get to grips with BIM. The 12-workstation learning suite features a full range of BIM model viewing software, e-learning tools and vocational training, including in basic CAD skills, 3D modelling, engineering design services, BIM consultancy on BIM adoption, software and technology skills, product design and BIM object creation.
The BIM Technology & Skills Development Suite is a first for a local authority in the UK and we strongly believe that local businesses will win more business if they use the facility.
Procurement efficiency training
In partnership with Oakwell Management Services Limited, SBSC will host a ‘pilot programme’ of professional procurement intervention including efficiency workshops and one-to-one business events to develop the business skills and knowledge of people in our borough. Ultimately we want to improve Sandwell’s supply chain capability.
[Pictured at the launch of SBSC: Penny Shinfield and Alec Gilham from the University of Wolverhampton; Tom Watson MP, and Paul Smith from Sandwell Council’s Think Sandwell team.]