More small businesses set to benefit from nationally acclaimed county loans scheme

Continued success and on-going job creation resulting from a nationally acclaimed small business loans scheme have led to a planned two-year extension.

Sixty businesses have benefited from the county council scheme since it was set up in October 2009. Cabinet members will be asked to approve a further £1million investment at a meeting next Wednesday.

Nearly 200 jobs have been created or safeguarded thanks to the Staffordshire Business Support Fund, which is run in partnership with not-for-profit organisation,BCRS Small Business Loans.

Cabinet member for economic growth and enterprise Ben Adams said the extension of the scheme would demonstrate the county council’s on-going commitment to improving Staffordshire’s economy and supporting local businesses.

“Extending our small business loans scheme for a further two years shows just how successful it has been. In 2009 we recognised the need for this initiative because of the on-going difficulty companies were experiencing in accessing essential finance from banks. This is still the case and the need is very much still there.

“We see the county council’s role as a facilitator in encouraging businesses to grow and prosper and stepped in where it mattered.

“The scheme has gone from strength to strength and I have seen it make a real difference to a range of businesses. Our model is now seen as one to emulate and demonstrates how this is providing significant returns for Staffordshire.”

He added that the county council was committed to long-term support for businesses and recently set up a single number advice line, 0300 111 8002, with the local enterprise partnership and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

BCRS Small Business Loans was recently accredited by the Government to administer the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), a loan guarantee scheme intended to facilitate additional lending to viable businesses with insufficient or no security with which to secure a normal commercial loans.

BCRS chief executive Paul Kalinauckas said: “Our loan fund has been especially designed to meet the needs of local businesses. We understand that getting business finance can sometimes be a problem and here at BCRS we want to meet that demand for loans. Not only does it mean that a business can flourish with our help but also contribute to the social, environmental and economic well-being of the area.”

An investment of £1m has been made since the scheme was launched, with £1m match-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). If approved, the next £1m will also be match-funded.

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