Tendring District Council extends SME grants scheme
- Credit: Will Lodge/TDC
A businessman whose firm won a £30,000 grant from Tendring District Council (TDC) is encouraging others to apply to the scheme, which has been extended.
The council’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Growth Fund provides businesses in Tendring with grants of up to £150,000 to support match-funding for initiatives which will create or protect jobs and aid with business growth.
Councillors agreed to extend the scheme until March 2020, with a total of £250,000 to offer in grants. They also agreed changes which open out the scheme to all sectors, except retail, and streamlined the process for smaller applications.
Andy Finch, director at Nantmor Blinds in Clacton, is urging firms to apply for funding after his company was awarded a £30,000 grant from the TDC scheme. The cash, which unlocked funding from a bank, allowed the firm to buy a new Auto Louvre machine which makes fabric strips for vertical blinds.
The work had previously been externally sourced by the company.
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“We were making the track in house but buying in the louvre from another company which had one of these machines which was proving too costly,” Mr Finch explained.
“Our options were either to stop making those blinds – which meant stopping making the tracks and losing some staff – or to expand and grow our operations, which this grant allowed us to do.
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“Like-for-like sales are already up 30% in the first three months of this year, we have taken on two new staff to work the machine, and it has protected existing jobs, and speeded up lead times for customers.”
Mr Finch added that there had been great support from TDC right through the process.
“I would absolutely encourage others to apply,” he added. “It has injected new life into the company and improved staff morale, as they see us investing in the future, bringing in new jobs and protecting their roles.”
Zoe Fairley, Cabinet Member for Investment and Growth at TDC, said supporting business growth and the local economy is a keen priority for the council and vital for the future prosperity of people in the District.
“It is great to hear how one of our grants has helped a local firm already, and Nantmor Blinds exemplifies what the SME Growth Fund is all about – supporting Tendring businesses, protecting jobs and creating new ones,” she said.
“With the extension of the fund for another two years, and the changes we have made to make it easier for firms to access grants, I hope many more businesses apply and can benefit.
“As the council’s budget shrinks due to cuts in funding we have to be prudent about where we spend money, but this fund is absolutely an initiative we should be supporting as it benefits the Tendring economy as a whole.”
Businesses interested in applying to the SME Growth Fund should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more