A combination of income from planning fees and business rates and tight financial management has meant North West Leicestershire DC has had money to invest in recent years.
In this regard, it has done what every other local authority does: focused on its priorities.
The Enterprising North West Leicestershire grant scheme supports the council’s priorities for business and jobs by attracting and supporting small and medium sized enterprises.
The scheme is unique, as far as we’re aware, in terms of how wide-ranging it is. No sectors are excluded, although our marketing prioritises our growth sectors and other economic priorities; grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 are available for all SMEs that are already operating in or are relocating to North West Leicestershire.
Vision vs the reality
Laying out the targets for our business grant scheme back in 2015, we said we wanted to attract £2 for every £1 we invested, and one job for every £10,000 invested overall.
We never knew how the scheme would take off and looking at the figures now, we’re delighted.
To date, we’ve awarded grants of up to £25,000 to 24 SMEs businesses, totalling £402,162 and subsequently attracting £2,854,724 in private sector investment; that’s £7 private sector investment for each £1 we put in.
Our investment has helped these companies to create 66 new jobs; that’s one job for every £6,000.
The range of companies that have received grants is impressive, from a specialist drainage company and a furniture business to an alpaca farm and a company that makes most of the world’s netting for packaged meat.
The success of the scheme has led us to focus on another area needing support: our town centre businesses. We want to support the business to consumer sector by helping businesses to start and thrive, and to address shop vacancies, so we’ve created Enterprising Town Centres – a new grant and business advice scheme that follows the same model as the original.
When Gordon Imrie and James Wood from Sapphire Products approached us, the company was leasing warehousing and manufacturing premises in Birmingham.
A combination of personal and business reasons led the new bosses at the family-run rivet manufacturing company to seek a relocation and they thought North West Leicestershire was the perfect place.
We find businesses of all sizes see North West Leicestershire as an attractive prospect. With our excellent links to the motorway network and East Midlands Airport, and positive business support through our team and other agencies, it’s no surprise we receive calls like this regularly.
The phone call came in to our business focus team to request assistance with finding premises and signposting to financial assistance. We were able to provide premises advice and put Sapphire in touch with support organisations. We were also able to offer a grant of £25,000 that would help Sapphire to establish itself in the district.
The company had been trying to relocate for a number of years (two previous attempts had failed) but, following advice from our team, Sapphire started work on its brand new building in Ashby de la Zouch in October 2014.
The Enterprising North West Leicestershire grant meant the company could buy a new racking system for the premises, significantly increasing stock storage capacity and enabling it to hire two new members of staff (as well as the nine staff it brought with it).
James and Gordon have told us that our team was enthusiastic and helpful from the start, providing valuable advice and support. This, together with a straightforward application process and ongoing interest in the company from the council, has helped the company relocate, invest and grow.