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£11.8m business support boost for manufacturers

Small to medium-sized (SME) manufacturers in Shropshire can start taking advantage of an £11.8million business support boost from today, dedicated to helping them grow and address key skills issues.

The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by ERDF and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (part of Oxford Innovation), has been extended until September 2021 and will help a further 2400 companies to tackle barriers to growth, with the potential of creating 2500 new jobs.

Going forward, support can be used for an array of improvement projects, such as continuous improvements, change, environmental and sustainability, leadership and management, marketing, people and skills, productivity and capacity, quality and strategy.

The additional funding aims to provide a more valuable and quality level of assistance from a local Manufacturing Growth Manager that has years of industry experience. An in-depth business diagnostic (via ‘GROWTHmapper’) and comprehensive action plan will be provided as part of the new programme, alongside improvement grants starting from £1,000.

In response to company feedback, a series of manufacturing themed workshops have also been added and will be available from Summer 2019 to help bridge current skills needs within manufacturing businesses and support future skills requirements in line with Industry 4.0.

“In October 2016, we were given the task of setting up a programme capable of delivering over £10.3m of dedicated business support to SME manufacturers and I’m delighted to say that, thanks to the hard work of the staff and the Manufacturing Growth Managers on the ground, we have achieved that,” explained Martin Coats, Operations Director of Oxford Innovation.

“Over the course of the last two and a half years we have helped more than 2000 SMEs to identify and overcome barriers to their growth and this has added millions of pounds to the local economy and created in excess of 3000 jobs, safeguarding thousands more in the process.

“Supporting Shropshire manufacturers is not easy and you need a tailored approach, delivered by experts who understand what it is like working in industry.

“The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and local Growth Hubs have seen first-hand the value we add to firms in their respective areas and this has resulted in their commitment to support us for another two and a half years.

“To make the most of this, we have joined forces with Oxford Innovation to deliver the extension of the programme and this will make us the country’s largest business support organisation, primarily focusing on manufacturing.”

The Manufacturing Growth Programme is available to small to medium-sized manufacturers who have an intention to grow, increase competitiveness and improve productivity while increasing turnover, creating new jobs and introducing new products/services and processes.

It is available to businesses in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, parts of the East Midlands, the South East and now within the Solent and Enterprise M3 regions.

Dean Barnes, Regional Director of the Manufacturing Growth Programme added: “The £11.8m extension will provide enhanced support to more SME manufacturing businesses in Shropshire, as well as having the opportunity to add further value to those companies we have already supported.

“Our Manufacturing Growth Managers are trusted experts that understand the language MDs are talking and, through a new manufacturing diagnostic tool, 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.”

"Accessing MGP has never been easier. The process is slick, the scope of support is tailored to each company’s needs, the diagnostic provides an in-depth look into their business and the results, as already proven, are making a real difference in terms of increased turnover, jobs and new products/processes.”

PICTURE: Telford-based Hitherbest Sheet Metal Fabrications has been supported by the Manufacturing Growth Programme

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