During the recession and subsequent government cut backs, grants for businesses were the first to be reduced. As the economy is finally in recovery, and the exchequer seems now willing to invest in business development, new funding opportunities are starting to appear.
One such example is the Fuse Fund developed as part of the Regional Growth Fund. Available across Lancashire, the Fuse Fund is a £4 million grant scheme for businesses that are looking to invest in machinery, buildings or equipment. Grant rates are set at 25 per cent of cost with grant amounts being between £5,000 and £50,000. Most businesses are eligible other than retail and tourism.
John Welbank of Rural Futures explains: “The Fuse Fund has been around for over twelve months but the programme is due to end in early 2015 and still hasn’t committed all its funding. Any business looking to invest over the coming months could be benefiting from a significant grant contribution that they aren’t aware of. Many businesses are put off applying for grants because of the paperwork involved. As part of the Fuse Fund package, external consultants, including Rural Futures, have been appointed to assist businesses with the application process.
“In 2015 a new European programme will re-start called RDPE. RDPE covers most business sectors that are located in rural Lancashire, not just farming and tourism. This is a large funding pot that can deliver grants from £5000 up to several hundred thousand depending on the project. Although the new programme won’t be opened until the New Year many projects will need several months lead in time, especially if planning permission is required.
Many businesses are unaware of funding opportunities that exist. Quite often they are too late to apply once they do realise. At the moment we have two sources that could make a real difference to Lancashire’s business community so it is imperative that we fully commit such funds when they are available”.
A recent success story from the last round of RDPE funding is the newly opened Grindleton Business Centre on the outskirts of Clitheroe. The project has created over 500m2 of new high quality office space.
Gary Hoerty of Gary Hoerty Associates delivered the project. He said: “We needed additional office space for our expanding property services business and at the same time we have also created additional office units to rent. We were unaware that businesses such as ours would be eligible but without the funding we simply couldn’t have delivered the project.”
Applications for the Fuse Fund are likely to end by December so businesses that are interested should contact Rural Futures as quickly as possible.