The LEP is working with local business support agencies to improve the way that small businesses can access the help they need to grow, and has established the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Growth Hub to bring several initiatives together.
The LEPâ€™s Business Helpline (0300 111 8002) offers information and will point local businesses towards suitable sources of support, but often a business will have more complex needs that require a face-to-face discussion.Â The Growth Hub can now offer time with an experienced advisor, who will visit the businessâ€™s premises, to identify business needs and sources of help.Â Any business interested in speaking to an advisor can book an appointment via the Business Helpline.
Businesses who need financial help to get started, or to unlock growth, can sometimes access grant aid â€“ but there are some major gaps in provision.Â The Growth Hub has launched two new grant programmes to plug important gaps.
Start-up firms and retail businesses are often not eligible for grants, but they can apply to the Small Business Grant Fund delivered by the Business Innovation Centre.Â Businesses seeking to expand rapidly, who may not meet the criteria for other funds (because they are not in the â€œrightâ€ sector, or because they need a blend of capital and revenue funding, for example) can apply to the High Growth Investment Programme managed by Blue Sky Corporate Finance.
These funds were launched at a LEP finance event on 7th May, attended by around 100 businesses.
David Frost, chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership, said â€œWe want to ensure our small businesses get all the backing they need to be a success, help boost our economic growth and create jobs. There are many varied sources of finance available to small and medium sized businesses and it can sometimes seem quite overwhelming to distinguish what funding is right for them.â€
The event helped businesses identify the pros and cons of different types of finance, including a handy presentation available from the LEPâ€™s website.