Photo of Dunston Business Village

Above: Dunston Business Village

The latest round of the Growing Places Fund is providing interest-free loans to support the growth of business projects in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership area.

The Growing Places Fund is a scheme that offers business loans, helping to companies that a looking to invest in ambitious growth. Applications for the scheme can include the development of commercial space (including retail), or housing/connection projects that will lead to more investment, regeneration and job creation. There is no upper limit for the interest-free loans, though the minimum amount is £50,000.

The fund is delivered by Staffordshire County Council, on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Businesses can find out more on what support is available in the area by accessing the SSLEP website, and click on the Enterprise Support section. Alternatively, call 01785 277706. Applications for this round need to be submitted by 5pm on Friday 31st January 2020.

Previous projects that have used the fund include office developments, an advanced manufacturing facility, canalside delicatessen, student accommodation and infrastructure provision for industrial development.

The fund has supported the expansion of Dunston Business Village, close to Junction 13 on the M6. The award-winning business park is completely occupied with a long waiting list. It has attracted a broad range of companies from all over the UK – relocating to Staffordshire and creating more jobs locally.

In order to meet the high demand for office space, Dunston Business Village added over 50,000 sq ft of office space (more than tripling in size).

Managing director Adrian McLaughlin said: "I wanted to create an environment where businesses wanted to be and where people wanted to work.

“Most of our businesses employ between one and 60 people and the feedback I receive is how they all enjoy spending their working day here and that Staffordshire is a great location.

“Without the Growing Places Fund, we would not have been able to meet the high demand for our office space, within a reasonable time. It has enabled us to expand at a much quicker rate, which in turn has allowed our clients to expand and take on more employees. The fund has been a great success for our business and has certainly made a dramatic difference to our ability to meet demand."

Use of the Growing Places fund to support the Dunston Business Village expansion was so successful that Adrian had a second loan application approved to expand the site even further.

Acting Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP, Alun Rogers commented:

“The Growing Places Fund has made a real difference to a range of businesses since it was launched and is now in its 14th round.

“It provides interest-free finance to help local businesses grow and thrive. This funding can really help to speed up businesses’ expansion plans.

“It has enabled extensive development which has brought in business and created jobs. Dunston Business Village is a real Staffordshire success story and expanded to provide a base for even more small businesses which play a vital part in the local economy.”

Businesses can qualify for loans if they are planning a scheme worth £100,000 or more. They can take advantage of an interest free loan if they can repay the money within two years of their project being completed.