Businesses across the Marches were today urged to take advantage of a £5 million funding pot to help them grow.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership says the money is available through a variety of business support programmes supported by the European Regional Development Fund and could provide vital help for companies across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

It is part of a wider package of support offered through the Marches LEP and its business support service the Marches Growth Hub amounting to more than £10million.

Paul Kalinauckas, the Marches LEP’s access to finance champion, said the ERDF funding could help companies in a huge variety of ways, including to grow, develop innovative new products or services, expand into new space, become more energy efficient, develop their sustainability and purchase key equipment and innovate.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises across the region can access more than 10 EU-funded business support projects – including grants and consultancy support – with a total financial value of almost £5million.

“This funding and support can make a big difference to small businesses, particularly against the current economic backdrop, and we would urge as many businesses as possible to get in touch to explore how they might benefit from this support.

“We would also urge our partners in the financial services economy to promote the benefits of all these programmes – and the wider support now available – to their clients to help ensure they can get the funding they need just when they need it.”

Examples of the ERDF-funded schemes include:

  • The Business Energy Efficiency Programme – through which companies can get expert help and up to £20,000 grant support to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint
  • Business Growth Programme 2 – A £23.5million SME business support package for both start-ups and established companies, with grants of up to £1million available.
  • The Low Carbon Opportunities Programme – Grants of up to £50,000 to help businesses in Shropshire develop low carbon products and services.
  • The Marches Step Up Programme – Offering support to entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the Marches through ​Step up to Start and Step up to Growth programmes. Support available under Step Up to Start is aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs, those at the pre-start stage or perhaps registered but not yet trading. The support will enable new businesses to get off to the best possible start.
  • The Small Equipment Grant – Funding of up to £10,000 to help SMEs purchase new machinery to help them to grow and develop new products and services

Paul added: “Alongside these and many more programmes, the LEP also supports the work of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which makes a wide variety of financial solutions available. The fund will invest in debt finance, small business loans, proof-of-concept and equity finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2million, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.

“And we have just launched our £4million Marches LEP Energy Fund for capital projects which help future-proof energy provision, promote the use of renewable and sustainable power sources and boost the low carbon economy.

“All this means there has never been a greater variety of funding available to our businesses to help them meet their own ambitions for growth and develop in an environmentally-responsible and sustainable way.”