£600,000 to help small businesses in Warwickshire to grow

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has announced a new round of funding worth £600,000 to support small businesses and help encourage economic growth and job creation in the county.

The cash is part of a £2 million package of support approved by WCC in October 2015 available to small businesses up to March 2018. WCC has so far awarded grants worth a total of £437,736 to 21 firms under this scheme.

The grants, worth £5,000 to £35,000, are available to small and micro businesses with plans to grow, either by employing more staff or increasing turnover. They are designed to help firms finance capital assets such as buildings, plant, machinery and equipment.

Projects awarded grants under previous rounds of the scheme include:

Aviation Engineering Support (AES) of Marton is an aviation engineering firm supplying technical parts to the aero industry. The business has received funding of £7,638 for a specialist test area in the company’s new premises.

Paul Broadaway, AES Director explains: “We identified an opportunity to expand the business by developing additional skills to repair aircraft components constructed of advanced composite materials. For this we needed specialist test equipment and an improved extraction system. The costs for the project was a total of £30k.”

Paul continued: “We’ve been very grateful of the grant funding from Warwickshire County Council, which has helped us realise these plans much sooner than we would otherwise have been able to do. Now completed, the project has already enabled us to increase our composite repair work to the extent that we are now in the process of recruiting two designated technicians to undertake this work, which we anticipate will increase further.

“We’re in a great position to continue to expand and make the most of future opportunities.”

Bowie Lockwood Structures Ltd of Binley manufactures and constructs bespoke industrial and agricultural buildings. The firm was keen to grow its product line of kit buildings which currently makes up 25% of its turnover. The firm received funding of £10,653 for a cutting unit and lift to help grow this line. As a result, the company has been able to create thee more jobs.

Marcus Lockwood, Bowie Lockwood Structures Manufacturing Manager explains: “The funding allowed us to purchase a machine to help automate a job that previously was very labour intensive. We were able to increase our manufacturing capacity by 20% due to the success of the new CNC plasma cutter. If we hadn’t received the grant, we simply wouldn’t have been able to purchase this machine any time soon, and therefore wouldn’t have been able to increase production and employ more staff.”

Marcus added: “Now we know how effective these machines are, we will be looking in the future to purchase another plasma cutter to speed up our fabrication process further, and in turn employ even more staff.”

The grant funding is designed to help businesses finance capital investment that will help them diversify or modernise their operations, leading to increased turnover and job creation or protection. The grant can be up to 40% of the total costs.

The funding has been directed towards small enterprises (fewer than 50 employees) and particular priority will be given to businesses in the following sectors identified as key growth areas for the local economy:

Advanced manufacturing & engineering;

Creative Industries;

Digital Media & gaming;

Intelligent Transport Systems;

Low carbon technologies;

Professional services;

Tourism & Culture.

The County Council is working with its access to finance partner, the University of Warwick Science Park, and the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub to promote the fund and support Warwickshire–based businesses looking to apply.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council said:

“Small businesses play an important role in boosting growth and creating jobs. I regularly meet companies across our region and hear first-hand how grants like this are helping them flourish. Small and micro businesses are responsible for nearly half (46%) of the job creation in the West Midlands region. That’s why we must continue our drive to provide the support they need to scale-up, and grow.”

Cllr Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added:

“Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy and I’m delighted that we are able to continue our commitment to help them thrive.”

The County Council grants are part of a wider package of finance available to support Warwickshire businesses including small business loans (delivered in partnership with Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust), ERDF investment grants, ERDF low carbon grants, rural development grants and LEADER grants in North Warwickshire.

For more information about the WCC grants or to check the eligibility of a project, please visit: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/businessgrants or contact Warwickshire County Council’s Economy and Skills Group on Tel: 01926 412709.

For more information about the range of support available to grow your business including other access to finance opportunities, contact Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747.