A new £2million Worcestershire Growth Fund is available to help local expanding businesses to create more jobs and boost productivity.
The new fund, which was announced at the #WLEP15 Annual Conference in November 2015, is a capital grant scheme financed by the Worcestershire Growth Deal to support the growth of Worcestershire businesses.
Grants of up to £100,000 are available although higher levels of support may be considered in exceptional circumstances and successful applications must:
• Result in increased business productivity
• Generate new, sustainable jobs based in Worcestershire
• Provide match funding of at least 50%
• Comply with State Aid regulations.
This is a two stage process with Expressions of interest for the first round open until 18 December 2015 and successful applicants will be invited to submit a full business case. The fund will run until March 2018, subject to availability.
The newly announced Worcestershire Growth Fund follows the success of previous programmes such as the Worcestershire Expansion Programme which supported 22 businesses with grant funding of £2,269,693 levering £13,747,345 from the private sector and creating 225 jobs whilst safeguarding a further 99 positions.
One of the businesses who were able to gain funding from that programme includes HotelshopUK, a travel company from Droitwich Spa, which has been able to completely modernise and redesign its IT systems allowing for information to be stored on an integrated cloud system following funding from the Worcestershire Expansion Programme.
HotelshopUK is a UK short breaks operator providing services to both the corporate and leisure markets. The company operates as three separate divisions: one serving business clients (on business corporate travel services), one selling leisure breaks (through greatlittlebreaks.com) and the third focused on the company’s contact centre operations (customerhubuk.com).
HotelshopUK received a grant of £23,672.82 from Worcestershire Expansion Programme (WEP) in addition to their own match funding investment of the same amount. The funding has created five new jobs for HotelshopUK and safeguarded three.
Vivienne Findlay, Managing Director of HotelshopUK, said: “We have developed a very aggressive growth plan for the next five years and having this help has undoubtedly given us the courage to finally take the leap and to push forward knowing our growth will be supported by solid technological foundations.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Worcestershire Growth Fund will have a positive impact for many expanding businesses in Worcestershire, boosting productivity and creating jobs within the County. HotelshopUK is yet another business that has expanded and modernised through a similar funding scheme. I am confident that the new Worcestershire Growth Fund will enable other businesses to grow and improve productivity.”
Cllr Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure and WLEP Board member, added: “I would encourage any businesses interested in the Worcestershire Growth Fund to enquire at the earliest opportunity. HotelshopUK is just one of many businesses to have drawn success from funding schemes and this support forms part of our Open for Business priority, to create new jobs and boost the local economy.”
For further information on the Worcestershire Growth Fund, including dates for future rounds and how local businesses can apply, visit the Worcestershire.Business.Central. website at www.business-central.co.uk/worcestershiregrowthfund.