Telford College hosted a special event to raise awareness of financial support available to help local businesses – including a brand new fund to support eco-friendly investment.
Professional services experts from the worlds of finance, accountancy, law and more attended the packed networking breakfast at the college’s Wellington campus, with many more tuning in through a live stream.
It was organised by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, and included the launch of its new Marches Energy Grant, a £1.5 million funding pot to help companies use energy more efficiently and cut carbon emissions and waste.
Paul Kalinauckas, the LEP’s access to finance champion, was joined on the speaker panel by Marches LEP chief executive Rachel Laver, Tracy Sherratt from the British Business Bank, and Steve Parry, a director of Q Commercial Finance.
In his opening remarks, Telford College principal Graham Guest said: “This is what the college is all about – helping companies to develop their workforce. We want to be part of the business community, to help in what seem to be incredibly tough times.”
The event was told that there were literally billions of pounds of financial support out there which companies across the Marches region were either not claiming their share of – or were not even aware of.
“How can we spread the word of what is available, and how can we get it? That’s the question we really want to tackle, because it is there for the taking,” Mr Kalinauckas said.
Rachel Laver outlined the new Marches Energy Grant – a £1.5 million pot of funding designed to replace the local Business Energy Efficiency Programme which is coming to an end.
It offers businesses a free energy audit, and grants towards installing energy-efficient equipment or systems into premises.
Tracy Sherratt explained how the Midlands Engine Investment Fund had already helped more than 600 small and medium sized businesses, by investing over £201 million.
And Steve Parry gave a broker’s perspective on the current situation, saying it was becoming more difficult than it had been ‘for a long time’ to raise finance with lenders adopting a more cautious approach.
But he added: “There are more options for funding solutions, and we still see a huge volume of good businesses looking to raise money for growth.”
John Wigley, from the Department for International Trade, also spoke about free support for businesses looking to focus on exports.
Mr Kalinauckas said there were more than 70 funding programmes available through the growth hub – the LEP’s business support service – which had helped 4,150 businesses in the first half of 2022/23 alone.
Pictured above: Graham Guest with speakers Rachel Laver, Paul Kalinauckas, Steve Parry, and Tracy Sherratt