Business Durham secures an additional £4 million for capital grant scheme

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L-R: Karen Jones, Senior Project Manager at UMi, Mark Coatsworth, Group Commercial Manager at Bignall Group and Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s Managing Director (Photo taken prior to lockdown)

The County Durham Growth Fund has been awarded an additional £4,000,000 of funding to continue supporting businesses across the county until June 2023.

Established in April 2019, the fund was initially a £4.9m capital grant scheme providing grants to small and medium enterprises in County Durham to accelerate their growth.

Due to the additional funding, the County Durham Growth Fund will now be able to support an additional 22 companies and help boost job creation and the local economy.

The fund overseen by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, is being delivered in partnership with UMi, which has a dedicated team of advisors ready to help with initial eligibility checks and funding applications. All successful grants applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers. The funding has been secured from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

In its inaugural year, the County Durham Growth Fund invested £2.7 million of capital grant funding to 11 businesses from across the county

Each of the companies have secured a sizeable grant to enable them to purchase new equipment, increase their capacity, improve efficiency, expand into new markets and create over 310 new jobs between them over the next two years.

The successful businesses include battery maker, Alexander Technologies, manufacturers BTS Fabrications and Durham Box, biotechnology firm Kromek Group, staircase and stair parts specialist Theresa Spinks, leading plastic injection moulding company IVM, B2B energy broker Great Annual Savings, engineering firms, Bignall Group Ltd and Dyer Engineering, large format print supplier, Design X-Press Ltd and radio frequency engineering business Filtronic.

Alexander Technologies, in Peterlee, has secured a grant to help fund their expansion and refurbishment of a newly leased facility and to buy equipment which is enabling the company expand into the medical market.

Newton Aycliffe based BTS Fabrications received a grant to purchase new production equipment to improve its operational efficiencies and introduce new processes, which will enable them to scale-up the production volumes of a new product range.

Durham Box plans to use its grant funding to construct a purpose-built additional warehouse on land adjacent to its current factory in Bishop Auckland, along with a covered loading dock and installation of mobile racking.

Kromek Group at North East Technology Park, has secured a grant to build 80 new CZT growth furnaces to increase its current manufacturing capacity at its base in Sedgefield.

Stanley based Theresa Spinks has used the grant it received to refurbish new premises, as well as purchasing processing equipment. It has also invested in a biomass heating system to enable it to burn its own waste wooden off-cuts.

IVM plans to use its grant to extend its existing factory unit in Crook to create space for two large injection moulding machines and creating new jobs over the next two years.

Seaham based Great Annual Savings will use its capital grant to move its head office into new premises on Spectrum Business Park. The support will help the company to fit out of the new building, install IT infrastructure and create a staff canteen.

Bignall Group, in Shildon, secured grant funding to help modernise and update its current machine shop, as well as purchase new milling machinery to increase the firm’s capacity and help it expand into new markets.

Dyer Engineering used the grant to purchase a fibre lasing profiling machine, robotic welding units and cranes at its Annfield Plain premises to help increase its manufacturing capabilities to access new markets.

Consett based Design X-Press purchased new print equipment with the grant to increase its capacity, improve efficiency and offer a broader range of services.

Radio frequency engineering business Filtronic, in Sedgefield, is using its capital grant to extend the company’s manufacturing and testing facilities. This additional capacity will enable it to win contracts with larger customers to help them grow and diversify.

The capital grant funding supports both established and new businesses who are looking to either expand or set up new operations in County Durham.

Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim Managing Director, said: “It is fantastic to celebrate the first anniversary of the County Durham Growth Fund by announcing we have secured an additional £4million of grant funding to the scheme. We will now be able to support more businesses from across the county to grow and thrive.

“We are delighted to have funded 11 businesses’ capital investment projects and help them to achieve their ambitions through expanding into new markets, becoming more efficient and increasing their workforce.

“Over the next three years as the economy moves into the recovery phase it is going to be particularly important to support businesses to grow and create jobs, and we hope the County Durham Growth Fund will continue to play a vital part in enabling businesses to invest and expand their operations in the county.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses to expand and thrive, and the County Durham Growth Fund is testament to this. As we mark its first anniversary, it is a fantastic opportunity to look back at the difference this funding has made – both in terms of enabling businesses to realise their ambitions and in the hundreds of new jobs it has helped to create within the county.”

Karen Jones, Senior Project Manager at UMi, said: “This first year has proved a tremendous success and allowed us to support some excellent growth projects over a varied sector base. This support is fundamental to aid business growth that will in turn protect and increase jobs and support long term economic growth in County Durham.

“I would encourage any small or medium sized businesses in the area who are planning a capital investment of at least £100,000 to get in touch with us to see if we can help them.”

John Healey, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW, said: “It is always encouraging to see businesses investing for the future. We are delighted to have supported the fund in its first year and look forward to continuing to work with growing businesses within County Durham.”

To check eligibility and get help with the application process contact UMi on 07443 231 757 *, or visit www.countydurhamgrowthfund.co.uk.

*(This is a temporary number as we are dealing with high call volumes due to the COVID-19 outbreak)