Wolverhampton launches fund to boost regional economy

A new £4.2m University of Wolverhampton fund, which will help create hundreds of jobs and promote growth, has been officially launched

The Green Shoots Plus scheme is funded by the Regional Growth Fund and aims to support small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Run in association with the Express and Star, Shropshire Star and Hereford Times it aims to create nearly 400 jobs over two years. Grants of between £10,000 and £150,000 will be available for businesses to bid for from the Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Herefordshire, Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire, South Staffordshire and Stafford local authority areas. 

Businesses from certain key sectors will be able to bid for funding with support targeted at businesses from sectors identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as having the most potential for growth and maximising impact for the local economy. These include advanced manufacturing, building technologies, transport technologies including aerospace, environmental technologies and Business to Business Services.

The scheme follows on from the hugely successful Green Shoots scheme which paid out grants of £1.2m to support SMEs in the Black Country.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Oakes said: “This is a huge boost to businesses in the region and provides them with an opportunity not only to create and safeguard jobs but also to grow and become more competitive. The first Green Shoots fund demonstrated at first hand the positive difference such schemes can make to businesses and that is why I’m delighted it has been extended to cover a wider geographical reach covering the areas the University works within and has strong partnerships. 

“It will also provide a greater level of grant funding meaning it will create even more jobs and allow businesses to innovate and have greater sustainability. Small to medium enterprises are very much the engine room of the UK economy and it is vital that they can continue to develop and be successful.

“The University of Wolverhampton is proud to play a leading role in economic regeneration in the West Midlands and recognises the importance of attracting government funding into our region to support local business growth.’

Businesses can bid for a maximum of 30% of total project costs from the fund. They will have to demonstrate a sound business case, job creation plan, a return on investment, they are SMEs which operate within the boundaries of defined geographical area and have been turned down for finance in the past.

Companies receiving grant support will also be provided with expert mentors drawn from the University and local business community who will be able to work with them as needed for at least 12 months to maximise the benefits of the investment and reduce the risks of failure.

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