A national campaign putting small businesses and their contribution to communities in the spotlight is heading to Middlesbrough.
The Small Business Saturday UK tour supports and promotes the UK's 5.8 million small businesses in the run-up to this year's Small Business Saturday on December 7.
The UK tour bus is on its way across the country, setting off from Blackpool earlier this month and making its way to London in early December in time for the big day.
The bus will take centre stage outside Flannels on Corporation Road in central Middlesbrough on Tuesday, November 12 from 10am to 2pm, offering free mentoring sessions to small businesses as well as a special ‘Blue Sofa' interview series.
A selection of leading Tees Valley small businesses and entrepreneurs along with both Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen will share stories about their small business or the local area with a Facebook Live audience.
Speed networking sessions will be held at each stop between 11am and noon, providing an opportunity to meet the Small Business Saturday team, bus tour supporter Dell, and other local business owners.
There is an opportunity for small businesses to exhibit outside of the bus during the stop to showcase themselves and what they do.
This a completely free service and whilst there is no selling of goods and services promotional materials and leaflets may be handed out - the space will be under shelter and free tea and hot chocolate will be provided.
Anyone interested in exhibiting should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Small Business Saturday Michelle Ovens MBE said: "Each year this campaign has grown in support from government, business and communities alike, and so we can't wait for December to come round and put small businesses in the spotlight once again.
"Small businesses are the heart of their communities with 5.6 million keeping their local economies moving, providing jobs, training and unique services.
"But this is not just a campaign for one day, it is a year-round celebration of small businesses and we want to ensure the long-term success of those high street heroes and digital stars, with a campaign that showcases their contribution for months before and after Small Business Saturday."
Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Culture & Communities, said: "We at Middlesbrough Council are passionate about supporting small firms and we already work with and support many small businesses here, and in the wider area.
"We're delighted to welcome the Small Business Saturday bus to Middlesbrough - it's a fantastic campaign that we would encourage all local businesses to get involved with.
"This is a great opportunity to put small businesses in the spotlight.
"They are already doing amazing things for our community and deserve greater recognition for their role in the local community."
Small Business Saturday is the UK's most successful small business campaign, which last year saw an estimated £812m spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday.
The #SmallBizSatUK campaign trended in the UK top 5 on Twitter on the day, reaching over 100 million people globally.
Small Business Saturday also benefits from the backing of leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses, Indeed and Dell. The campaign is also supported by Amazon, printed.com, Square and Xero.
Locally Business Support Agency Enterprise Made Simple have also supported the initiative.