Businesses in Leicestershire are benefiting from county-wide support projects designed to assist them with their growth and expansion plans.
Collaborate for Growth and the Digital Growth Programme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund and partners, are supporting small and medium-sized businesses through grants and tailored impartial advice. Collaborate also provides an inward investment service for businesses looking to relocate.
More than 160 companies have benefited from funding pots of £3.1 million from Collaborate for capital projects and £3.5 million from the Digital Growth Programme for technology projects as well as receiving one-to-one business advice.
Leicestershire County Council is a partner in both these initiatives which are open to existing firms with fewer than 250 employees, trading business-to-business in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, recently visited two local businesses, Assured Solutions in Measham and Charles Blyth & Co, based in Castle Donington, to see first-hand how the support has helped them.
He said: “It’s wonderful to see how the Collaborate for Growth and Digital Growth Programme are helping forward-thinking businesses across the county to overcome challenges, create new jobs and grow.
“Working with our partners at Leicester City Council, East Midlands Chamber*, the LLEP and the Food and Drink Forum, there is a genuine sense of collaboration to engage with and support local businesses to grow and prosper for the good of the local economy.”
Assured Solutions of Measham is a family-owned chemical manufacturing business that employs 32 staff. The business manufactures and distributes cleaning and maintenance products to resellers under their own label. Funding of £25,000 from Collaborate has helped towards a major project relocating their manufacturing plant from Dudley to Leicester as well as the purchase of a semi-automatic filling machine. The support has created three new full-time posts and enabled them to double their capacity and fulfil increased demand and orders.
The business also received a technology grant from the Digital Growth Programme of £24,000 enabling them to introduce new IT infrastructure including automated machines on the production line and new software to streamline production, order processing and stock control.
Raj Naik, director of Assured Solutions, said: “The funding through Collaborate made our decision to relocate and invest in the new machinery that much easier and has resulted in greatly increased productivity and greater job satisfaction for the employees.”
Charles Blyth & Co is a family-owned business specialising in the manufacture of pocketed springs for mattresses supplying well-known mattress makers such as Hypnos, Silent Night and Rest Assured. The business was struggling with production capacity and they successfully applied for a Collaborate grant of
£16,734 towards the purchase of a new pocket spring machine, enabling them to produce larger and more complex zoned** units, opening up more market opportunities.
Chairman Stuart Blyth said: “This new machine increased our production capacity by 13.9 per cent. Over the last year, with increased capacity, we have secured further contracts that have resulted in the establishment of a new framing department to meet the increased demand which in turn has increased our direct labour base from 33 to 38 employees.”
Both businesses are also located in areas that have been upgraded through the Superfast Leicestershire programme and can enjoy speeds of up to 56mbps download and 10mbps upload through fibre broadband.
Although Collaborate funding has now been allocated the project continues to offer free, specialist business advice along with a range of business growth workshops. Businesses interested in future funding can contact the team to be put on a waiting list.
Technology grants from £2,000 to £40,000 are still available from the Digital Growth Programme providing around a third of the total investment for eligible businesses.
*East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)
**zoned unit – this method of construction uses different materials or levels of firmness in different parts or zones of a mattress support layer.