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Marches LEP event to highlight access to finance hailed a huge success

An event to highlight the many funding options available to businesses in the Marches has been hailed a huge success.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership hosted the event for intermediaries working with businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to help them direct their clients to the huge range of funding and support on offer.

The event, staged at Telford College, attracted around 50 specialists who were told that the Marches Growth Hub should be their first port of call when seeking business finance or support.

Marches LEP chief executive Rachel Laver also revealed more details of the new Marches Energy Grant – a £1.5million funding programme open to all businesses in the region which offered a free energy efficiency audit and grants of up to £20,000 towards more energy efficient equipment to cut power bills and emissions.

Rachel said: “The Marches LEP recognises the pressure that mounting energy costs is putting on businesses of all shapes and sizes. The first way to cut those bills is to use energy efficiently and that is exactly what the Marches Energy Grant helps with.

“Businesses will get a free energy audit to show them how they can use power more effectively and a maximum grant contribution of £20,000 towards the cost of implementing the measures.

“Any business interested in applying for the grant – which will be a 40 per cent contribution to the overall cost of their energy improvements – should contact the LEP or their regional growth hub in Hereford, Shrewsbury and Telford.”

Marches LEP access to finance champion Paul Kalinauckas said there were more than 70 funding programmes available through the growth hub – the LEP’s business support service – which had helped 4,150 businesses in the first half of 2022/23 alone.

“Any business seeking finance or support really must start their search with the Marches Growth Hub. Their experts can help guide you through the many funding options available – from grants and loans through to debt and equity solutions – and assess which are the best ones for you.

“It is a fantastic, free service which not only offers help with finding funding but runs a wide range of really useful workshops and seminars and can help with your business development at every stage from starting up to going for growth.”

Tracy Sherratt, the UK network senior manager for the British Business Bank in the West Midlands, highlighted the bank’s range of funding options – including the Midlands Engine Investment Fund which has already invested more than £200million across the Midlands.

And Steve Parry, director of Q Commercial Finance which has bases in Wellington and Shrewsbury, told the meeting how brokers could help support the Marches Growth Hub in directing clients to the best possible funding solutions.

“There are lots of reasons to be optimistic despite the economic challenges. We are seeing many businesses looking to raise funds for growth, particularly in the last two months.”

The LEP brings together the business community, the public sector and academia to drive economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, and has invested £196million in the region over the last decade.

The Marches Growth Hub supported more than 15,000 businesses across the region in the 2021/22 financial year and helped more than 800 people start a new business.

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Graham Guest, principal of Telford College and Marches LEP skills champion, Rachel Laver, Paul Kalinauckas, Steve Parry and Tracy Sherratt

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