There are now some 173 Business Links shops covering 70 per cent of businesses in England, according to a Business Links spokesman. Some 18 design counsellors have been appointed to date.
Each shop is managed by one of 63 companies, set up to run and operate the Links. At the time of start-up, each company will have had to provide a business plan which outlines the economic viability and need for the proposed Link shop in much the same way as any other business planning to embark on a new venture, says the spokesman. Each company can run more than one Link shop.
Ultimately, the Links should be able to charge for their services. “The Links will be funded by a mix of sources, with the DTI providing money to deliver DTI services such as design counsellors, but they will also generate their own income like private sector organisations,” adds the spokesman. The Birmingham Business Link has started charging companies for its services, but the charging structure will be determined by each operating company.