We were delighted to welcome West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, as guest speaker at this year’s AGM, helping us to celebrate our 20th birthday.
Offering his congratulations on ART’s achievements over 20 years, Andy described ART as one of the unsung heroes of the local business finance scene, saying: “I first met Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART, when I became Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and was impressed by his knowledge, enthusiasm and determination when it comes to finance for enterprise. Access to finance was always a key issue raised with the LEP and ART was always there – from long before the LEP came into being – persistently working, even through difficult times, to ensure that businesses could access the finance they needed to survive and thrive. ART has made a big difference to hundreds of businesses and a huge contribution to the local economy over the past two decades. In some ways the access to finance situation has improved in recent years, but there are still issues to tackle.”
Steve Walker said: “We are ready, willing and able to do more to fill the gap in the market for small business loans left by the banks. Both research and our experience on the ground show this gap to be bigger than it was in 1997, when we were set up to tackle the issue. Our aim remains to support local jobs for local people, remaining true to the mission set out by our founding Chairman Sir Adrian Cadbury.”
Sir Adrian’s son Benedict and daughter Caroline attended the AGM along with over 60 ART members, borrowers, introducers, partners and supporters.
Nick Venning, recently appointed new Chair of ART, said: “ART has £7.5m to lend over the next three years, which is extremely good news. We are set to increase our loan book and are actively seeking additional funding to enable us to support even more businesses. ART’s approach is inclusive. We will continue to help any business in need of funding that in turn supports jobs and the local West Midlands economy.”