Funding and Support for Lincolnshire Businesses Are you aware of the funding opportunities available in Lincolnshire for your business? Do you often feel that your business could benefit from support but you’re unsure where to look, who can help and aren’t exactly sure how it all works? Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce supports businesses from far and wide across the county, connecting them through networking events, workshops and training. In this edition, the Chamber would like to share and show their readers the opportunities available for funding and business support. Lincolnshire is home to a range of new and up and coming businesses – all hungry for a broad range of skills, expertise and experience. However, skills and employment in Lincolnshire varies. The business community often describe different challenges regarding skills and employment. This can be reviewed within the results of the Quarterly Economic Survey and the Strategic Economic Plan for Greater Lincolnshire. Such challenges include; employers not being able to find the right skills within the local labour market, difficulty in recruiting and retaining highly skilled employees, and, not being able to access the right training for their workforce. To bridge the skills gap, businesses require tailored training and support to meet the diverse needs of each sector. Developing skills from the root is key in order to sustain long-term workforce and retention and support future growth. But maybe instead of waiting around for the right person with the right skills and the right attitude and the right experience, we should be focusing (more) on our current workforce, and upskilling as many workers as possible to meet demands. This is achievable. There are opportunities available right now to help you do this. There are over 400 training providers in Lincolnshire all bursting with opportunities to help local employers. So perhaps you’re an employer or even an employee reading this and have been thinking about finding support to help your business evolve. Perhaps you feel certain skills are lacking in the workplace, or want to refresh your own skills. Maybe you know a business experiencing challenges within their team. This is where Lincolnshire Chamber can help. Ian Jones facilitates and supports the delivery of Collaboration 4 Growth – a business grant scheme offered to micro, small or medium sized business in Lincoln, North Kesteven and West Lindsey. Here, Ian talks to Lincolnshire Chamber about how C4G can help you and how businesses can get involved? How can the Collaboration 4 Growth project support businesses within the remit above? The C4G grant scheme can provide grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to support SMEs who have a project that will lead to the growth of the business. What criteria do businesses have to meet in order to be eligible? The business needs to be an SME, based within either City of Lincoln, North Kesteven or West Lindsey. Whilst there are some sectors (retail) and some projects (replacing IT) that aren’t eligible, the key criteria is that the project will lead to business growth. What type of support will businesses receive through this grant? As the Grant Officer, my role is to support businesses through the application process. I will meet with businesses to discuss their project and provide advice on the application process, from completing the application through to claiming the grant (if successful). Is it match funded? Yes, the grant is for 60% of the total project, up to the maximum grant of £5,000. The applicant must provide the remaining 40% of the project spend. Explain the application process/procedure? Interested businesses, who have a project that they believe is eligible should complete an Expression of Interest (available from either Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce of Lincoln BIG website). These are then assessed and businesses with an eligible project will be asked to complete a full application. I will then present the completed application to an Appraisal Panel. Can you give any advice regarding what helps businesses stand out on an application based on your experience? This is difficult to pinpoint as the projects we can support are so varied. However, the first thing I always look for is how the project will enable the business to grow. In short, business growth is the key criteria. If you would like to speak with Ian regarding C4G funding, contact him at [email protected] Next up is Paula Finch. Her LinkedIn profile says she is ‘passionate about supporting businesses to be the best they can be in their world’ and this is certainly the case for Paula Finch – Business Mentor & Coach. Last year alone she supported over 100 businesses through providing strategic advice, enabling Lincolnshire businesses to make a difference, move forward and achieve their potential. Here she talks to Lincolnshire Chamber about local funding opportunities in Lincolnshire for local businesses. Would you say that Lincolnshire has a huge scale of funding opportunities to suit every business and sector? Lincolnshire has a good spread of options available for SME’s. These are being added to constantly so to rule any out at this stage and put any possible organisation would not be appropriate at any single point in time as you can never say never in the funding world and that’s where I can help with just a simple phone call or email. Can you list some types of funding for Lincolnshire businesses, just to show the diverse range of support available? Consultancy, business coaching, business strategy and planning, marketing / sales strategy and planning, business growth development, change management support, capital equipment, product innovation, lighting, renovate a barn to a rural farm shop and to set up a closed local pub to a community hub to name but a few areas. How do these types of funding help and impact businesses from your experience? These funding pots enable organisations to unblock the areas that are holding them back from growing and is ultimately the difference that makes the difference. Most grants look for the impact of the investment to be growth in terms of people employed as a result and financial growth. How easy it for businesses to apply for funding? Will it impact on their daily operations? There is a time investment for applying, however, to weigh up how much sales it would take to add the grant amount to the bottom line is often seen as a good return on investment by CEO and Owner Managers. As is always the case there are some funds that are easier to apply for than others. Can you offer or signpost support for businesses wanting help in the funding application (tendering) process? Yes and I do wherever possible. If there is someone reading this who wants to know more, how can they get in touch with you? Call me on 07734473060 or email me [email protected] for find out more.