Since 2009, the Staffordshire Business Loans Fund has awarded local SMEs over £4m in funding, in turn creating and safeguarding over 1,000 jobs, Staffordshire County Council has revealed.
The loan fund is the brainchild of Staffordshire County Council and is managed by BCRS Business Loans.
With investment coming from the European Regional Development Fund, the initiative has been able to award 165 loans to Staffordshire SMEs, a combined total of £4.25m in funding. This money has contributed to the creation and protection of 1,079 jobs.
Local business owners who struggle to gain traditional funding from highstreets lenders are able to apply for loans ranging from £10,000 – £50,000; an opportunity that Dee Benning, an engineering entrepreneur who was made redundant in 2012, grasped with both hands.
Soon after being let go by his employers, Benning applied for and was awarded funding by the loans fund, enabling him to create Lordswood Architectural, a curtain wall and façade solutions company that has 25 staff and works with commercial, residential and domestic building companies.
Benning has praised the Business Loans Fund, explaining that it gives SME owners the chance to create their own business when denied access to funding by large banks.
‘‘Finance was my only barrier – in particular, my inability to secure it from lenders. I approached the fund to help me to establish the business and purchase a delivery vehicle. BCRS listened to my proposals and could see the potential in this business when others doubted me.’’
‘‘My assigned loan officers came out to meet me personally and were helpful at every stage of the loan process. Quite simply, Lordswood wouldn’t be where it is today without this support.’’
Mark Winnington, economic leader of Staffordshire County Council has praised Benning’s decision to apply for a council loan, stating that he is a prime example of ‘‘why we wanted to set up the fund here in Staffordshire.’’
‘‘The loan fund is continuing to make a real difference to small businesses in Staffordshire and means more people are in employment. Lordswood’s success demonstrates this further – it has done exceptionally well to build up its workforce in such a short space of time. The company is growing, winning contracts nationally and taking on more people.’’