Published: 08:56, 13 May 2019
| Updated: 08:58, 13 May 2019
SMEs in the county can now take advantage of an £11.8million business support fund to help them grow and tackle key skills issues.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions. part of Oxford Innovation, has been extended until September 2021 and will help a further 2,400 companies to tackle barriers to growth, with the potential of creating 2,500 new jobs.
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 and comprehensive action plan will be provided as part of the new programme, alongside improvement grants starting from £1,000.
A series of manufacturing themed workshops have also been added and will be available from this summer to help bridge current skills needs within manufacturing businesses and support future skills requirements.
Martin Coats, operations director of Oxford Innovation, said: "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.
“Over the course of the last two and a half years we have helped more than 2,000 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 3,000 jobs, safeguarding thousands more in the process.
“Supporting Kent 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.”