(l-r) Lorraine Holmes and Martin Coats (both Manufacturing Growth Programme)
SME manufacturers in the West Midlands have been given a major boost this week with the launch of a new £9.7m business support initiative.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), which is funded by ERDF and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), is promising to fill the void left by MAS by providing access to specialist assistance to help firms grow and improve.
This will be achieved through a 19-strong network of experienced Manufacturing Growth Managers, access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,500.
Support can be used for leadership and management training, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development and is open to all SME manufacturers in the West Midlands.
“Since MAS was abruptly axed at the end of 2015, manufacturers have not had access to a support programme that is tailored to their exact requirements and delivered by people who know the sector,” said Lorraine Holmes, chief executive officer of EGS.
“This has all changed with the official launch of MGP and we now have funding in place to help firms tackle operational issues, make the most of new opportunities and boost the skills of their workforce.”
She added: “The programme has to be delivered by March 2019 so we want companies to come forward and take advantage of this assistance. It’s never been easier as the process is quick and the scope of support can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the business.”
MGP’s network of manufacturing growth managers will be the first point of call and will work with firms on completing a strategic business review and developing an action plan.
This will highlight the areas of improvement required and, from there, a number of industry specialists will be explored before the client chooses the expert they want to work with to complete the project.
The programme, which offers grants of 35% of the total project cost, is also working closely with a number of LEPs and their respective Growth Hubs to ensure manufacturers are signposted to other initiatives that may be able to help.
Lorraine added: “We have spent the last three months getting our full team in place, but even during that stage we have started to roll-out the initiative, working with more than 300 companies already.
“These projects have created in excess of 400 new jobs and, over the course of the two years, we believe we’ll help to generate thousands more.
"Industry has withstood a lot of economic turmoil and come through the other side, now we’re here to help them maximise the most of new opportunities.”