Small and medium-sized manufacturers in Staffordshire and Stoke have created over 100 jobs in the last eighteen months after tapping into a business support initiative.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), has helped companies to grow, develop new products and improve their processes and quality.
This has led to 101 new jobs, with an additional 41 positions expected to be created once ongoing projects are completed. By the end of January, nearly £180,000 of grant contributions were made, with money in place to support hundreds more between now and March 2019.
Businesses can find out about funding opportunities through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub. Nicola Kent, who runs the Growth Hub on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “139 grants have been offered under the programme to date, with 46% coming from the engineering industry.
“Most of the support received went towards improving the quality of products and on marketing and market knowledge. Stoke received most of the grants for our area, followed by East Staffordshire and Tamworth.
“I would urge more businesses to call the Growth Hub for free to find out more about what funding may be available to them."
Martin Coats, managing director of EGS, said: “UK manufacturing has just posted its ninth consecutive month of growth and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent SMEs are at the forefront of leading this expansion.
“It is great to see we are playing our role with our manufacturing experts able to get under the skin of what support firms need to grow.
"We understand the language MDs are talking and can guide them on making the right decisions, before bringing in specialists on specific issues they are facing or opportunities they’re looking to explore.”
He added: “Across the UK, more than 2000 companies have now been assisted and we’ve created more than 1000 new jobs…those are apprentices, operatives, experienced engineers, R&D specialists.
"The impact has been across the UK and we’ve helped firms as far North as York, as far South as Kent, as far West as Hereford and as far east as Lincoln.
“We still have £2.5m of grants to deliver and we want manufacturers to come forward and see how they can take advantage of the assistance on offer. It’s never been easier, as the process is quick and the scope of support can be tailored to the exact needs of the business.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme was set up to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.
This is being achieved through an 18-strong network of experienced Manufacturing Growth Managers (MGM), access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an average grant of £1400, rising to a maximum £3,500.
Support can be used for improvement projects, such as leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.
Dean Barnes, Regional Director at EGS, said: “When firms come to us they receive a strategic review from one of our MGMs that determines what barriers are in the way and what support is needed to help them reach their potential.
“We can also help with continuous improvement and help firms improve their environmental performance.”