Warwickshire County Council will deliver a new £2.6million Business Support Programme over the next three years after securing another £1.3million from the European Regional Development Fund.
The ERDF investment, match-funded locally, is excellent news for the business community in Nuneaton and Bedworth after the previous programme exceeded all its targets and received very positive feedback during its first three years, ending in December 2018.
The programme, managed by Warwickshire County Council’s Economy & Skills Group, supported 411 businesses, helped 159 people to start a business and created over 250 new jobs.
Independent research found that 95% of respondents said they would recommend the project to other organisations while 75% thought the project would deliver a positive financial impact within the next 12 months.
Business in Nuneaton and Bedworth to benefit include Optical People, in Market Place who received a small capital grant.
“The county council grant was worth more than just the money,” said business owner Ravi Saigal. “It was great to know we had that little bit of support towards the big project we were undertaking. It sounds strange but psychologically it gave me a real lift.
“I found a location that I felt would work and, though we could have opened in Nuneaton without the grant, it would have been more difficult and taken longer. I would certainly recommend that any small business looking to grow should find out how the county council can help.”
The vast majority of businesses surveyed agreed that they received the right type (85%) and right amount (82%) of help at the right time (84%). That help will now remain available to Warwickshire businesses after the new injection of another £1.3 million ERDF investment, match-funded locally by Warwickshire County Council and partners. The county council will provide £716,000, with the district/borough councils, University of Warwick Science Park (UWSP) and Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) providing a further £600,000 between them.
This collective effort means the council can continue to deliver a comprehensive, county-wide support programme.
Support available includes a start-up service (delivered by the Chamber of Commerce), a programme for tech-based businesses (Business Ready, delivered by UWSP), a dedicated programme for the creative sector (Creative Springboard delivered by CWRT) and access-to-finance advice, as well as many other support services for businesses looking to grow or invest in Warwickshire (delivered by the county council itself).
In the next three years the new programme is expected to support a further 475 businesses and help another 150 people to start a business.
Warwickshire County Council’s strategic director for communities Mark Ryder said: “For the amount of money we, as a council, have put into the programme the payback is huge, so it is great that it will continue for another three years.
“I am sure that with the new ERDF funding, matched by ourselves and our partner organisations, the programme will go from strength to strength and help many more small businesses like Optical People to become established and grow.
“Here at the county council we have a great business support team. They have so much knowledge and so many contacts that, no matter what you throw at them, they respond. Working hand in hand with the Growth Hub, Chamber, the universities and other partners they do brilliant work and I am delighted that this new funding will ensure that business will continue to benefit from that support and advice over the next three years.
“The county council is as passionate as ever about supporting small businesses. While we do a lot of work with the big employers, and it’s great that so many big companies choose to locate in Warwickshire, those flourishing small businesses are absolutely integral to a strong economy.”