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Marches LEP wins European funding to support businesses

Dr Geoffrey Davies OBE, Marches Local Enterprise Partnership

Businesses across the Marches are to benefit from nearly £373,800 of support following a successful bid for European funding from the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Marches LEP has been awarded £186,892 towards its Marches Business Support Project from the European Regional Development Fund. This will pay for advice and training to companies and entrepreneurs in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

A range of businesses and social enterprises will be able to access the targeted support between now and 2014 – covering the transition period between the withdrawal of the previous Business Link support and the launch of the organisation’s new online service

Chairman of the Marches LEP, Dr Geoffrey Davies OBE, said: “One of the LEP’s priorities is to provide support for our small and medium-size businesses and we are delighted that our application for this ERDF grant has been successful.

“The funding will support a vast range of small businesses, from start-ups to existing enterprises looking to expand and grow their operations. Importantly, we estimate that it will help contribute an extra £4 million to the West Midlands economy.

“When SMEs make up the vast majority of our business landscape across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, it is vital that we ensure they are able to access advice, training and business mentoring. The Marches Business Support Project will help them not only to flourish and create sustainable private-sector jobs but to contribute to the revitalisation of the regional economy across the Marches.”

“The project will also play a crucial role in supporting entrepreneurship, by working with the unemployed in our region to help them gain new skills and potentially launch their own enterprises.”

Support has been broken down into three specific schemes. One will assist in the creation of new enterprises, a second will support new businesses to help ensure their survival past the difficult first year of trading and a third will work with businesses with high growth potential.

The project is aiming to assist up to 200 entrepreneurs to start a business, as well as more than 110 new businesses with training and support to ensure they are sustainable into a second year of operation. Additionally, around 50 businesses will be assisted to improve their performance.

Half of the total project cost is being funded via the ERDF, with Herefordshire Council, Shropshire Council, Telford & Wrekin Council and the private sector contributing the remaining 50 per cent.

It is estimated that around 140 entrepreneurs, businesses and social enterprises will benefit from the support in Telford & Wrekin, with approximately 120 receiving assistance in Shropshire and a further 100 in Herefordshire.