Small to medium-sized manufacturers across the Marches have created 54 jobs in the last eighteen months after tapping into a dedicated business support initiative.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered byEconomic Growth Solutions (EGS), has helped companies across the region to grow, develop new products and improve their processes and quality.
This has led to 54 new jobs, with an additional 17 positions expected to be created once ongoing projects are completed. By the end of January, nearly £95,000 of grant contributions have been made, with money in place to support hundreds more between now and March 2019.
Martin Coats, Managing Director of EGS, explained: "UK manufacturing has just posted its ninth consecutive month of growth and SMEs in the Marches are at the forefront of leading this expansion.
"It is great to see we are playing our role with our manufacturing experts able to get under the skin of what support firms need to grow. We understand the language MDs are talking and can guide them on making the right decisions, before bringing in specialists on specific issues they are facing or opportunities they’re looking to explore."
He continued: "Across the UK, more than 2000 companies have now been assisted and we’ve created more than 1000 new jobs…those are apprentices, operatives, experienced engineers, R&D specialists. The impact has been across the UK and we’ve helped firms as far North as York, as far South as Kent, as far West as Hereford and as far east as Lincoln."
"We still have £2.5m of grants to deliver and we want manufacturers to come forward and see how they can take advantage of the assistance on offer. It’s never been easier, as the process is quick and the scope of support can be tailored to the exact needs of the business."
The Manufacturing Growth Programme was set up to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.
This is being achieved through an 18-strong network of experienced Manufacturing Growth Managers (MGM), access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an average grant of £1400, rising to a maximum £3,500.
Support can be used for improvement projects, such as leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.
Dean Barnes, Regional Director at EGS, continued: "When firms come to us they receive a strategic review from one of our MGMs that determines what barriers are in the way and what support is needed to help them reach their potential.
"Since October 2016, the most common areas of expertise delivered in the Marches have been around marketing, understanding new market opportunities, boosting quality and ensuring the right strategy is in place to deliver growth.
"We can also help with continuous improvement and helping firms improve their environmental performance."
Gill Hamer, Director of the Marches LEP, added her support:
"The manufacturing sector contributes more than £2 billion to the Marches economy and has huge potential for growth if it receives the right support, which includes expert advice and access to finance.
"There are more than 2,000 advanced manufacturing and engineering businesses in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, employing 28,000 people. We’re pleased to see some of these businesses being supported by the MGP, which means more investment in innovation, skills and job creation.
"We’d urge other manufacturing businesses to take advantage of the assistance on offer, with more information available through the Marches Growth Hub."