A BUSINESS fund that aims to drive private sector growth across the town has now created 100 new jobs and safeguarded another 31, according to St Helens Chamber.

The St Helens Jobs and Growth Fund, a £2m scheme supported by the Government, has awarded grants ranging from £5,000 to £70,000 to 15 businesses.

With many of the firms that made the town such an industrial powerhouse in the past having waned in recent decades and the public sector have faced considerable cuts because of austerity measures, unlocking investment among the borough’s businesses to drive growth is regarded as vital for St Helens economic prosperity.

The Chamber aims to make the application process efficient and straightforward and, on average, it takes 17 days from receipt of an application to approval of a grant.

Geoff Bates, regional growth fund programme manager at St Helens Chamber, said: “We have now approved grants amounting to more than £558,000.

“Eligible projects have ranged from investment in IT to new plant and machinery and expansion of premises.

The main criteria are that the projects must create new employment opportunities and grants can amount to a 20per cent contribution to the overall cost.”

Euro Lab Supplies Ltd, which provides chemicals to educational establishments, has been awarded a grant of £70,000 towards the £350,000 development of its new premises in Ravenhead Road, following its relocation from Winsford.

The project will create six jobs and safeguard 10.

Managing director Nick Buxton says the grant has helped the company to invest in new equipment that is vital for its future growth.

He said: “The grant made a significant difference to the project and allowed us to upscale our plans in terms of the equipment we were able to purchase.

“The process was fast and the support from the Chamber was very useful.

“It wasn’t as laborious as I thought it might be and from submitting our application to receiving approval seemed to take no time at all.”

Eligible projects should have a minimum total value of £20,000.

NCCResources, which develops learning resources for businesses, colleges and training providers, is using a £5,750 grant to fund IT investment, including a new server and the development of a home learning website.

For more details and an Expression Of Interest form, visit sthelenschamber.com/rgf or call Geoff Bates on 01744 742087.