A £1 MILLION Business Grant Fund created by St Helens Council to help small and medium sized businesses grow will be launched this month.

The cash boost for economic development announced by St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald in 2013.

Now St Helens Chamber has been awarded the contract for delivering the initiative. It is separate to the Jobs and Growth fund that the Chamber is already running.

With employers the public sector, including organisations such as council and the NHS, having been hard by funding cuts during the Government’s austerity programme, encouraging growth among private business is regarded as key to job creation and St Helens long term prosperity.

Grants of up to £10,000 will support small and medium sized enterprises who want to expand or need additional support but who cannot find suitable finance.

The programme can provide grants to fund business expansion, and also to new start up businesses.

It will offer specialist support to local enterprises to help them prepare the feasibility studies and business plans required to obtain loans from banks and other funding sources.

Councillor Grunewald said: “With many banks taking a tougher line on loans, small and medium sized firms are often left languishing when they want to expand.

“But the new scheme could soon free the financial log-jam. St Helens Chamber will help firms prepare their case before approaching banks and other lenders.

“The economic crash of 2008 made a serious and lasting impact on the banks and – consequently - small and medium sized businesses.

“At present there are few resources to support these sectors when companies want to expand or need additional support.

St Helens Chamber Director of Business Services, Tracy Mawson added:  “This new fund from St Helens Council is extremely welcome to assist new
entrepreneurs and existing businesses to obtain grants to help them expand.
There is now significant help for businesses with a good new idea and we
encourage local entrepreneurs to come and talk to us as soon as possible.”

For information on how we can assist people with a business idea call Steve Mather 01744 742082 or for established businesses looking for assistance
call Ian Fletcher on 01744 742108.
Or visit www.sthelenschamber.com/business_grants