A proposal has been put forward to extend a business grants scheme supporting small businesses to create and protect jobs in Tendring.
Tendring District Council (TDC) is looking to continue running its SME Growth Fund until March 2020, offering a total of £250,000 in grants of up to £150,000 to firms within the area.
Under proposals being put forward, and backed by TDC Cabinet Member for Investment and Growth Zoe Fairley, the scheme would also be widened out so that more businesses are eligible.
First launched in 2015, with cash support from Essex County Council, the fund was initially geared towards specific sectors including the maritime and offshore industries. To date businesses have been supported with awards totalling £138,250 – which in turn have created 19.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, protected 3.5 FTE more jobs, and leveraged £262,694 in private sector funding, such as bank finance.
Many other firms applied to the fund but were ineligible as they did not meet the sector criteria. But under the revisions to the fund being put forward, the scheme would be open to all businesses except retailers, provided they meet the other aims of the initiative.
The fund would, under the proposals, also be split into minor and major grants, with a more streamlined process for minor applications (£3-15,000), making it easier for small firms and start-ups to apply.
To qualify, businesses would need to demonstrate how the cash will create or protect jobs and help the company to grow, and the funding must be matched by other investment.
It is hoped the scheme will pay out around 20 grants, create 40 FTE jobs, and leverage at least a matching £250,000 of private investment.
Cllr Fairley said she would be recommending the SME Growth Fund revisions at a Cabinet meeting on Friday, April 20.
“Despite the significant reduction in funding to Tendring District Council from central Government, forcing us to really consider how and where we spend our money, we are committed to supporting local businesses and job growth,” she added.
“By supporting businesses to grow and creating jobs, the whole local economy benefits and the general prosperity of our District will increase.
“That is why we are committed to helping companies in Tendring with initiatives such as the Blue Ribbon business awards, the Jobs and Careers Fair, and this business Growth Fund.”
Other leftover money from the initial SME Growth Fund would be held by the Council and used for future economic growth projects.