SMEs have been given a boost this weeks thanks to the launch of a new £9.7m business support initiative hoping to support more than 3,000 companies.
Funded by ERDF and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), the new Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) is looking to fill the gap left by MAS through access to specialist assistance to help firms grow and improve.
The plan is for a 19-strong network of experienced Manufacturing Growth Managers, access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for grants up to £3,500 all to help SMEs unlock their potential.
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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 SMEs in the West Midlands, as well as companies in parts of the East Midlands, East of England and Yorkshire and Humber.
Chief executive officer of EGS, Lorraine Holmes: “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.
“This has all changed with the official launch of MGP and we now have funding in place to help over 3200 firms to tackle operational issues, make the most of new opportunities and boost the skills of their workforce.
“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.”
The first point of call will be MPG’s network of Manufacturing Growth Managers and will work with SMEs to develop an action plan and undergo a strategic business review.
The work will highlight the areas of improvement and from there a number of industry specialists will be offered to clients and the most appropriate one will be chosen by the client to help 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.
Holmes 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.”