A £1.4m University of Wolverhampton scheme funded by the Government to help economic growth and job creation is now inviting grant bids from regional businesses.
The scheme is being run alongside the Express and Star newspaper with the money coming from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
The Express and Star Green Shoots Fund will fund 50 small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Black Country and create a minimum of 75 jobs.
Businesses from certain key sectors will be able to bid for funding with support targeted at businesses from sectors identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as having the most potential for growth and maximising impact for the local economy. These are:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Building Technologies
- Transport Technologies including Aerospace
- Environmental Technologies
- Business services
Bidders will be able to apply for funding of between £10,000 and £50,000. They will have to demonstrate a sound business case, a return on investment, that they are Black Country based SMEs and they have been turned down for finance in the past. Successful businesses will also have to provide 50 per cent matched funding for any grant they successfully obtain.
Companies receiving grant support will also be provided with expert mentors drawn from the University and local business community, who will be able to work with them as needed for at least 12 months to maximise the benefits of the investment and reduce the risks of failure.
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We want to help provide a step change in job creation in the Black Country and see this as crucial to economic regeneration in the region.
“Every job that is created helps secure other jobs and help growth. This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses, the University and The Express and Star to work together to secure growth and prosperity for the region.
“It is key to get long term investment to help develop the skill base as well as providing much needed jobs and stimulating the economy. The mentoring side is also crucial- it gives support and aims to provide sustainability in the future for those businesses which are successful.”
Businesses can start the application process for funding with advisors from the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre on hand to guide them through the six week process.
Gary Dimmock, Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre Manager, said: “Each bid will be judged on its merits set against criteria but the main aim of businesses should be to create jobs and prosperity.
“People need to be able to demonstrate that what they are proposing is sustainable. We realise in certain industries it may be more about sustaining current employment levels but working more effectively.
“Even if a bid is unsuccessful we will feedback and try to point people in the right direction in terms of accessing help and funding from different areas.”
Four breakfast workshops will be held in each of the Black Country boroughs in the comings weeks in order to lay out the scheme further to interested businesses.
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “I want to thank everyone involved in getting the Green Shoots programme off the ground backed by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. It represents a real shot in the arm for the Black Country and is a perfect example of government and the private sector working together to find viable businesses which fit with local growth priorities.
“The money is there now, waiting to help businesses and communities across the Black Country. So don’t hesitate and find out now how this fund could help your business grow and flourish.”
For further information businesses can visit www.wolverhamptonbsc.com/greenshoots or telephone 01902 321272.