THE Prime Minister was full of praise for the Local Business Accelerators initiative which with the help of local newspapers aims to give local businesses a boost.

The Gazette is among 500 newspapers across the country that have announced their LBA winners this week.

David Cameron said: “Last year’s Local Business Accelerators campaign was a phenomenal success and showed what a range of strong, growing businesses there are across the country.

“It is a huge credit to the papers taking part that they are offering real support to their local businesses.

“They play a vital role in local communities and are uniquely placed to boost their local economy.”

Here is north Hampshire, The Gazette’s winners are Betty Hobcraft from betty Blue’s Loungerie, Kaia Vincent from Brevity Marketing and Sarah Evans from RightBag.

They will be benefitting from free newspaper advertising in Gazette Newspapers publications and mentoring from business advisers and accountancy firm RSM Tenon and law firm Lamb Brooks.

The three businesswomen will have the chance to progress to the national stages of the competition, which will see the overall LBA winner receive mentoring support from the Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden – the campaign’s national ambassador.

One of them will be chosen as the overall Basingstoke area winner in May, and will then go forward to a regional final.

Deborah said: “I would like to congratulate the local winners of this year’s Local Business Accelerators, who should all feel extremely proud to have got this far in the competition.

“The first LBA created hundreds of business success stories across the UK and I am confident that we will see hundreds more again this year, as the winners receive the campaign prize of free local newspaper advertising and mentoring.

“We need to do everything we can to support small business owners and entrepreneurs and LBA is helping to do just that.”

In addition to the main prize, this year’s LBA winner will take home £10,000 from the Business Growth Fund, one year’s free membership of the CBI, free business advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales valued at £2,000, an iPad from Freeagent, plus free business broadband and wi-fi access for a year, and the design and management of a website from BT.