£1m scheme to aid small firms

A NEW £1m ground-breaking funding scheme aimed at helping small or medium sized enterprises (SME) in Wiltshire to grow has been launched by the Wiltshire Business Support Service, part of the Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce.

The scheme, known as Gateway For Growth, recognises the value of strategic leadership, personal development and developing the leadership and management capacity of SMEs.

The Wiltshire Business Support Service is able to help eligible businesses apply for up to £4,000 in funding towards a place on the LEAD programme, delivered locally by QuoLux under licence from Lancaster University Management School.

The funding can also be used in conjunction with £2,000 of Leadership & Management funding from Growth Accelerator, meaning that £6,000 is available in total. Applications are being sought from businesses with an annual turnover between £0.5m to £40m, with 10 to 250 employees. LEAD has been running in the south west since 2011, and the next LEAD programme commences in April.

Typically there are between eight and 15 business people on each tenmonth programme.

LEAD enables business leaders to have the time and space to take a strategic perspective, identify challenges and deliver practical solutions for business growth.

Delegates also have the option to have their learning and development assessed to receive a post graduate certificate from Lancaster University.

Nick Denning, joint managing director of Procol in Melksham said: “LEAD and its Shadowing & Exchanges gave me the confidence to go into someone else’s business and suggest changes.

“The programme reinforced how to lead people through clear, concise communication and how not to by placing limitations on others.”

Stewart Barnes, managing partner of QuoLux said: “It is great to have the support of Wiltshire Business Support Service with its extensive links to the Wiltshire business community to increase the awareness of the funding and LEAD.

“Research tells us that a typical LEAD delegate will grow their company by 14 per cent per annum as a direct result of coming on the programme and will increase employment by 17 per cent per annum. LEAD has a major positive impact on people, companies and the wider economy.”

Supporting business growth is a strategic objective for the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise.

Funding will initially run until March 2015.

However, the LEP is keen to see this develop beyond that as part of the 2015/20 Growth Deal programme that is currently being negotiated with the Government.

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