Council continues support for business growth

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Argyll and Bute Council has launched the second phase of its successful Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme after securing additional European funding.

The programme – worth a total of £855,239 including this second phase – is funded by the council and the European Regional Development Fund under the 2014-2020 Structural Funds Programmes.

The programme gives growing local businesses the chance to access specialist advice and grant funding to help them expand.

Councillor Aileen Morton, Argyll and Bute Council leader, said: ‘Phase One of the programme was worth £348,000 and helped 72 businesses across Argyll and Bute access additional support to help their growth plans.

‘When they registered for the programme, the combined turnover of these businesses was £13.7 million, with a total of 229 employees. Although it’s still early days to assess the full impact of the support they have received, we can already see a positive effect as combined turnover has increased by more than £3.1 million and the number of employees increased by 54.

‘Encouraging and assisting the growth of businesses is a key part of our economic strategy and our drive to attract more people to live and work in Argyll and Bute. This second round of funding will allow us to provide extra support to businesses with growth potential, alongside the support already offered by our Business Gateway team.’

The specialist help on offer from subject experts includes up to two days of free advice on human resources, eCommerce, marketing, growth strategy, funding and tendering.

The growth grant funding can cover 50 per cent of costs up to £5,000 for projects linked to business growth. An employer/graduate placement grant can provide 50 per cent of basic salary costs up to £12,000 where a wholly additional full-time permanent employee or a graduate placement of six to 12 months is required to support business growth.

In addition, businesses in key growth sectors – tourism, food and drink, forestry, the creative industries, energy, life sciences, financial services or defence – can also access grants of up to £1,500 to support training, accreditation or attendance at trade fairs.

Client feedback from Phase One:

‘So far the journey has been an overwhelming success and we couldn’t have done it without the support of Business Gateway. Our adviser Jen Smith has been absolutely fantastic. Business Gateway has helped us with an employee grant and pointed us in the right direction for funding that allowed us to invest in essential equipment’ – Steve Losh, SOS Fitness, Helensburgh.

‘As we continued to grow, we needed expert support and Business Gateway were able to help. Through the advice and knowledge of our adviser, we were able to access a growth grant and funding which was a massive help’ – Cat Glazzard, Asgard LLP, Dunoon.

‘Since setting up, we’ve had support from Business Gateway who have been with us every step of the way. The specialist advice we received in marketing and PR has really given us a boost and put us in a great position to go forward’ – Fin Geekie, Wild Thyme Spirits, Colonsay.

To access the support, businesses must register for the programme, which is open to businesses aiming to increase their turnover by £50,000 or more within the next three years; which are also based in Argyll and Bute; micro-, small- or medium-sized (fewer than 250 employees and less than €50 million turnover or balance sheet total of less than €43 million); not account managed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise or Scottish Enterprise; and not operating solely as retailers.

Anyone wanting to discuss their eligibility should visit or talk to a Business Gateway adviser on 01546 604555.

A Business Gateway adviser will work with businesses registered for the programme to develop a growth plan and access relevant support. Full terms and conditions for the programme are available from Business Gateway.