Grants scheme for businesses could extend to St Edmundsbury

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A business grants scheme that has helped entrepreneurs create more than 50 new jobs and £2million in turnover could soon be extended.

Since the first grant was awarded in June 2011, Forest Heath District Council’s small business grant scheme has supported 30 start-up or new businesses.

Three years on from the scheme’s launch, a total of £43,000 has been invested, helping support the creation of 54 new jobs and an annual turnover of around £2.1million.

In light of this success, St Edmundsbury Borough Council could soon start offering the same support to businesses in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.

Among those businesses to benefit from the scheme in Forest Heath is New Horizons Day Care in Mildenhall.

Owner Beverley Webb had been trying to set up a children’s day care centre for 13 years before her dream came true in December, using Forest Heath’s grant to purchase equipment and cover other start-up costs.

“If we hadn’t had the grant we wouldn’t have been able to buy as much equipment. It helped immensely,” said Mrs Webb, whose company is about to take on two apprentices.

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Of the 30 businesses that received the grant, only two have failed – and one of those was through ill health.

David Bowman, Forest Heath’s cabinet member for economic development and tourism, said: “Through our support, we have helped with the birth of new businesses and the delivery of new jobs. That in turn, means we have been able to support our families and communities in their aspirations for a better quality of life and prosperity.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet will consider replicating the success of the scheme when it meets on Tuesday, funding the grants using developer money from the Asda supermarket in Bury.

The two councils are already working together under the banner of West Suffolk.

Cllr Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for economic growth said: “This is a brilliant scheme that is creating sustainable new jobs and bringing prosperity to the area. It is only a small grant but it could make all the difference.”

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