Tendring District Council seeks employment boost with launch of SME Growth Fund

Tendring district councillor Giles Watling.

Tendring district councillor Giles Watling. - Credit: Archant

Tendring District Council has launched its own dedicated SME Growth Fund, to help local small and medium-sized businesses to start-up or expand and create new jobs.

Essex County Council has also contributed to the fund, which is open to businesses located within the Tendring district and employing fewer than 250 people.

Tom Gardiner, regeneration manager at Tendring council, said that, even in the “good times”, the district tended to lag behind other areas in terms of growth – an issue the fund was intended to help address.

Giles Watling, the council’s portfolio holder for planning and regeneration, said the creation of additional employment was of great importance in a distict were many jobs tended to be part-time and, in the tourism sector, highly seasonal.

Tendring council has put £500,000 in the fund with Essex County Council adding a further £250,000. “We think it is a great idea and we want people to know about,” said Mr Watling.

Printed guides to the fund are being distributed around local business parks and a digital version is being circulated more widely to firms around the district.

The main focus is on the engineering, maritime and offshore renewables sectors, although applications from the wider manufacturing and energy sectors and research development will also be considered.

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A wide range of investment costs relating to starting or growing a business are eligible for support, which include acquiring, fitting out or refurbishing premises, marketing and publicity costs, plant and machinery, vehicles (if essential to the business), office equipment, intangible assets such as patent rights and licences, and employment costs.

As a guide, each £7,000-worth of grant awarded will be expected to generate the equivalent of at least one additional full-time job, lasting for at least 12 months.

Sole traders/self-employed, partnerships, limited companies, community interest companies, companies limited by guarantee and industrial/provident societies are all eligible. Not-for-profit businesses, co-operatives, social enterprises and charities may apply, provided they have a trading arm which fits one of required legal definitions.

The grants are not “a free hand out”, says Mr Watling, but are subject to match-funding requirements. Start-up businesses are required to raise a sum equal to the grant while established firms must raise three times the sum. Match funding can take the form of the business’s own funds, borrowing or equity finance.

The Tendring SME Growth Fund is part of a range of initiatives by the council to promote business and employment within the district.

It is planning the third Tendring Jobs & Careers Fair, to be held at the Princes Theatre in Clacton-on-Sea on Tuesday, October 4, from 10am to 4pm.

Last year’s event attracted more than 2,000 visitors, and this year’s is expected to be bigger still, with around 50 stands offering job and career opportunites across a wide range of sectors.

“I think personal contact is so important,” said Mr Watling, “and that is what this event does. It is going great guns and I can see it getting event bigger.”

More than 40 exhibitors are already confirmed as attending the fair. Other employers interested in taking stand space at the event should call Rachel Fryer on 01255 686149 or email rfryer@tendringdc.gov.uk .

The council is also staging an awards event, Tendring Blue Ribbon, also at the Princes Theatre in Clacton on Thursday, October 6, from 6.30pm to 10pm.

The event is being held with support from chartered accountants Jamesons and banking group Barclays, with categories including Rising Star of the Year, Tradesperson of the Year, Start-up Business, Fast Track Growth, Business in the Community, Entrepreneur of the Year, Customer Excellence, Retailer of the Year, Long Service, Hospitality and Leisure, Employer of the Year and a special Judges’ Award.

For further details including sponsorship opportunities and how to make a nomination, call Christine Brownon 01255 220044 or email christine@tendringblueribbon.org.