LOCAL newspapers have delivered a huge boost to UK business by pledging an unprecedented £15m worth of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises.

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

Nearly 500 publications, including the Sale and Altrincham Messenger are joining forces to promote the strength and value of local newspapers for local businesses and communities.

Together, 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 business mentors plus a substantial allocation of free advertising space in their local publication.

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

Deborah Meaden said: “I’ve seen the unique contribution that 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 so proud to support LBA and help build thriving and industrious communities.”

This week the SAM launches its search. It is open to all businesses that are active in the local community, between one and three years old and full of potential.

They may have a great idea or product, or even found a new market. They are the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and individually they will create pride in the community.

If you run such a business, or know anyone who does, and want the chance to receive invaluable business support and advertising space in SAM visit accelerateme.co.uk for more information. Entries close on Monday, November 14.

Barbara Hallwood, from Marketing Profile, Martin Duff, managing director of Randalls Ltd, plus SAM editor Carla Flynn, and advertisement manager Chris Jennings, will form the judging panel and will review and shortlist entries before awarding three lucky local businesses with the prize of free advertising and business advice.

They will also be looking out for that one overall star business to put forward to be in with a chance to gain Deborah Meaden as a mentor during 2012.

Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press. No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like this.

“It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.”