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Growth fund grants reach £30m milestone for Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:32 27 March 2020

Ash Reddington operating the new laser cutting machine at Optima Stainless in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Ash Reddington operating the new laser cutting machine at Optima Stainless in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Grants handed out to firms in Suffolk and Norfolk to help them grow have reached £30m and created about 3,000 jobs, according to the body awarding them.

Liquid 11  launched Pocket Receptionist with the help of a New Anglia LEP grant. Pictured is boss Grant Hardy  Picture: JAMES BASSLiquid 11 launched Pocket Receptionist with the help of a New Anglia LEP grant. Pictured is boss Grant Hardy Picture: JAMES BASS

Over the past 10 years, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said payments of up to £500k from the Growing Business Fund for large businesses and up to £25k under the Small Grant Scheme for small ones have supported more than 800 projects.

LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said the schemes supported were designed to ensure businesses have the funding, skills, support and infrastructure to flourish.

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“We know all too well how much support businesses need, and we will be doing everything we can to help them through the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

“Our business grants continue to be available, so I would encourage businesses to contact New Anglia Growth Hub and speak to one of our advisers.”

Among the beneficiaries are tube laser cutting firm Optima Metal Services in King’s Lynn, which was given a £120k grant six years ago towards a £1.2m expansion which included a new factory, a flatbed laser and vehicles.

A further funding injection of £264,900 in 2018 enabled Optima to purchase a tube laser and create 14 new jobs, and LED lighting in the warehouse was supported by the Small Grant Scheme. The firm’s workforce has risen from 40 to 70 in three years.

Project co-ordinator Warren Boore said the firm had expanded from a 30-mile radius to a 70-mile one as a result of the support. “Without the grant, we would not have been able to do this for another two years, so it has really helped accelerate our growth.”

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The Small Grant Scheme has awarded £3.67m to 362 projects.

Creative business Liquid11, which has offices in Lowestoft and Norwich, used a £10k grant earlier this year to extend its telephone answering business with new hardware. Pocket Receptionist picks up between 800 and 900 calls a day for 450 businesses and employs 10 full-timers.

A £25k grant funded the refurbishment of premises near Norwich Station into new offices for the firm and a hub for other tech companies.

Manager Matt Rayner said the LEP had been “instrumental” in the progress the company had been able to make.

Norfolk Brewhouse near Fakenham used a grant of £2,800 to buy a 20 barrel fermentation tank in January to enable it to produce 4,500 pints more of its core Moon Gazer every week.

“We simply couldn’t have done it without the support we received from the LEP,” said director David Holliday.

To find out about LEP grants, call 0300 333 6536 or visit www.newangliagrowthhub.co.uk

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