A KEY source of support for Leicester and Leicestershire’s businesses will be able to reach nearly 200 more firms following a decision to extend its funding.
An additional £2million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money has been awarded to Leicester City Council and partners for the Growth Hub project – a service providing a one-stop shop for business support across the city and county as part of the Business Gateway Growth Hub service.
The funding award means businesses will now be able to get a share of additional grants totalling just over half a million pounds, and continued access to a range of business support services.
The service has received two rounds of ERDF funding since 2016 and the current £3.9m of ERDF funding was due to end in December 2021.
Leicester City Council is the accountable body for the current ERDF project and the additional £2m of funding means the programme will now be extended until June 2023, enabling it to provide continuing support to firms still recovering from the disruption to the their trading caused by Covid-19.
The Growth Hub services include:
- Professional business advisers to support businesses throughout their development, offering advice on issues including business planning, funding and growth
- A programme of business-related events and workshops/ seminars, covering a range of topics including reducing carbon emissions, becoming more innovative and adopting digital marketing
- A dedicated programme to accelerate the growth of businesses created from 2018 onwards
- Regular webinars on aspects of finance including where to find funding and how to apply for it successfully
- Referral of clients to complementary grant schemes such as the Digital Growth and ‘Scale-Up’ programmes
The additional funding means it will be able to provide support to another 188 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the city and county. The service has already helped over 500 SMEs and created over 200 jobs.
The funding makes available a further £490,000 of capital grants and £163,000 of revenue grants for businesses.
Cllr Danny Myers, assistant city mayor for jobs and skills, said: “On top of the success Leicester’s had with infrastructure and skills bids, this is another huge boost.
“This is significant additional funding to support the city’s many innovative and dynamic small and medium sized businesses. Leicester’s SMEs play a vital role in providing jobs and services in the city.
“It’s also another endorsement for the council’s vision for Leicester - to secure economic growth that is dynamic, inclusive and sustainable.”
The total project cost is around £12million, comprising investment from the city and county councils, the LLEP, East Midlands Chamber and ERDF funding.
LLEP Board Director and Chair of the Business Gateway Board, Sonia Baigent, added: “I am delighted that the Business Gateway has secured this additional ERDF funding through till June 2023.
“This means the service can continue to support the dynamic range of businesses across Leicester and Leicestershire free of charge.
“Our friendly business advisers are on hand to give businesses the help they need to achieve their business aspirations. Our fully-funded workshop and seminar programme provides the skills and knowledge businesses need to run a successful business and grant funding will be available to help those ready to expand and grow further and create new jobs.
“The Business Gateway offers all this and more, so I encourage businesses that have not contacted us before to get in touch to find out what is available for them.”
Businesses interested in accessing support can do so here or by calling 0116 366 8487.