Northamptonshire County Council has helped 373 local businesses with free start-up advice and support since launching its Enterprising Libraries project two years ago.
The programme has resulted in 19 new businesses and 25 additional jobs since it began at Northampton’s Central Library in October 2013.
These figures are expected to rise to 46 new businesses and 99 jobs by 2017 as entrepreneurs currently working with the service launch and continue to grow their ventures.
Enterprising Libraries provides support to entrepreneurs and small business owners who can benefit from workshops, intellectual property advice, online resources and one-to-one business support.
Northamptonshire was chosen as one of 16 areas nationally to deliver the Enterprising Libraries programme with support from the British Library, the Department for Communities and Local Government and Arts Council England.
Of the 46 businesses currently supported by the project in Northamptonshire, 56% are being set up by women, 13% are from black and Asian minority ethnic groups and 21% have a disability, all well above the national average figures for business start-ups.
Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “It’s great to hear that we are successfully connecting library users to business information. The number of businesses launched as a result of this project is proof that libraries can help our communities to prosper by supporting new and innovative ideas.
“We’re very excited to be continuing this work with the British Library and we invite budding entrepreneurs in Northamptonshire to contact their local library for more information about how the Enterprising Libraries programme could help them.”
'Vital shared space'
County council chief executive Dr Paul Blantern, who is also chair of the national Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, said: “Congratulations to each of the 373 entrepreneurs who, with support from the Enterprising Libraries programme, have taken the steps to build and strengthen a business of their own.
“I’m extremely proud that Northamptonshire Libraries have been able to offer support, proving that libraries are a vital shared space for communities to come together to help each other with business, leisure and wellbeing.”
Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said: “The findings of the Enterprising Libraries report offer hard evidence that libraries have enormous potential as engines of innovation and economic growth, thanks to their ability to link people with vast amounts of information, inspiration and knowledge for free.
“The special role of libraries as accessible, welcoming and trusted spaces in the community also means they are well-placed to attract everyone with a business need through their doors. The results of the Enterprising Libraries project are testament to the power of collaboration across the library network.”