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Growth Factory to boost Black Country businesses

Companies across the Black Country are to get vital help and support to help them expand and prosper through a ground breaking partnership.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured £3.1 million from the £35 million Regional Growth Fund, being run by Lancaster University, to set up the 'Growth Factory' in the region.

Under the scheme, which is being led by Wolverhampton City Council, small to medium businesses will be given access to a host of services, under 1 roof, to help expand, promote and support their enterprises.

This will include a package of grants, exclusive business support products and an offer of export and marketing experts that can be based within local businesses.

It is set to be launched on 1 January, 2014, with the project finishing in March 2015.

The Growth Factory, which will be based in Wolverhampton Science Park, will aim to create hundreds of new jobs while safeguarding existing ones and attract further funding to continue the scheme beyond 2015.

It has come about as a result of the partnership incorporating the 4 Local Authorities, BC Chamber of Commerce, University of Wolverhampton, Manufacturing Advisory Service, UKTI and Growth Accelerator.

Businesses accessing the factory will be given day to day support and advice to tap into new markets, make the most of supply chain opportunities and to promote their operations.

A package of specialist support will also be put together for businesses focusing on innovation.

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Prosperity, said: "This is fantastic news for the region and the result of excellent partnership working.

"The Black Country economy is starting to grow again, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and we want to help small to medium businesses maximise the opportunities that will arise.

"The Growth Factory will help businesses expand, creating as well as safeguarding jobs and we are also confident that we will secure the necessary funding to continue this after 2015."

Stewart Towe, Chair of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership said: "The Black Country Growth Factory will support local SMEs to overcome capacity constraints and maximize the opportunities resulting from global growth, through access to new markets and competitive supply chain opportunities, to achieve our shared objective to grow the Black Country economy."

Allocation of The Regional Growth Funding will be through Lancaster University. As well as helping to decide which cities' proposals received funding, Lancaster University academics will also be providing ongoing support and evaluation of the cities.

Lancaster, which was named as a top 10 university for SME engagement by the recent review by Sir Andrew Witty, was brought in because of its experience and expertise in working with business, local authorities, as well as Local Enterprise Partnerships and growth hubs.

Lancaster has worked with more than 5,000 SMEs since 1999. It has also helped the creation of more than 250 new business and more than 4,000 new jobs.

  • released: Wednesday 4 December, 2013