A £ 2million loan fund for small businesses facing challenges accessing essential finance as they seek to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will see its final cycle opened in April.
Harry broadhurst – Journalist from Staffordshire
The three-year Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund will provide loans of £ 10,000 to £ 50,000 to businesses in various industries. This is the latest support program put in place by the County Council as part of its long-term Staffordshire Means Back to Business strategy.
It will see the county working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the nonprofit BCRS Business Loans, which will administer the program for both councils. Staffordshire County Council has worked with BCRS for over a decade. Its first Staffordshire Business Loan Fund was established to support businesses after the 2008 global financial crash.
The 2021 fund will be made up of contributions from County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, BCRS, European Regional Development Fund and North Staffordshire Risk Capital Fund.
Staffordshire County Council Deputy Head and Economics and Skills Cabinet Member Philip White said:
“The Business Loan Fund helps viable small businesses access essential financing where they have had difficulty with commercial lenders.
“This, like all of the programs we’ve launched since our Staffordshire Means Back to Business strategy began last summer, is focused support where it’s needed most. We have worked successfully with BCRS for a long time and will combine our efforts with those of our colleagues in Stoke-on-Trent for this round of funding.
“Originally created in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, our focus in 2021 is on solving the immense challenges for businesses resulting from Covid-19. The loan fund has already enabled businesses to grow, diversify and hire new employees. He has supported companies in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to professional services.
“Over the next three years, we will build on this success by supporting 200 businesses that will contribute to our economic growth and create jobs in our communities.
BCRS Business Loans Managing Director Stephen Deakin said:
“We are delighted to be working again with Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council after granting five successful loan funds in the past.
“The new loan fund will build on this support as small businesses begin to reorient their efforts towards recovering from the significant impacts of Covid-19. We understand that small businesses look for a relationship-based approach to lending, where dedicated finance professionals assess each loan application on its own merits, rather than using impersonal computerized credit scoring systems.
“As a non-profit lender dedicated to social and economic impact, we believe that no viable business in Staffordshire should go unsupported and we are happy to provide them with additional financial support through this fund.”
Since the launch of the Staffordshire Means Back to Business strategy last summer, a range of supports have been put in place by County Council, including a full package for start-ups and grants for small businesses.
Information on the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund and a range of other business support programs is available through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub at www.stokestaffsgrowthhub.co.uk
Alternatively, small businesses can register their interest in the business loan fund by sending an email to [email protected]
The fund is expected to be approved by the county council cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday, March 17.