NEWSQUEST South-West, publishers of your County Gazette, has joined other regional and local newspapers across the country this week to deliver a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15million in free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.

The bold initiative, backed by Taunton-born Dragons’ Den judge Deborah Meaden, is called Local Business Accelerators and spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society.

Nearly 500 local press publications, including Newsquest South-West’s County Gazette in Taunton and The Packet Newspapers in Cornwall, are promoting the strength and value of local newspapers for businesses and communities.

The local press industry will search for the nation’s most promising young businesses and help them accelerate their success with top professional advice from local business mentors, plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space in their local publication.

Also, one lucky business picked from the hundreds of regional winners will get individual mentoring sessions from LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden, who will become a consultant and mentor to the business for one year.

Deborah, who took a controlling interest in Wellington textile firm Fox Brothers in 2010, said: “I’ve seen the unique contribution local press makes to the success of local businesses time and again with my own ventures.

“In this age of enterprise it has never been more important to drive awareness about the value of local marketing for a fledgling business, which is why I’m proud to support Local Business Accelerators, and help build thriving and industrious communities.”

The County Gazette is delighted that Kathryn Howard, marketing and events manager at Taunton School, and Michael Finn, group managing director of Wellington Motor Group, have signed up as mentors – both are experts in their field and fully aware of the benefits of advertising in local newspapers like the County Gazette.

They will work alongside Newsquest South-West managing director Simon Dixon-Phillip, senior advertisement manager Karen Bosley and news editor Alex Cameron as part of the judging and mentoring process.

Simon said: “We’re delighted to be involved in such an innovative scheme and look forward to receiving entries from fantastic young businesses.”