Where do you see yourself in five years?’ It’s a common question at interviews, with responding answers of career progression or specific personal achievements. But when it comes to your business, do you have a plan? Is it an increase in turnover, a new product, bigger premises, better productivity?
These plans often come at a big cost, which can often limit what smaller businesses can achieve, at least in the timescales they were hoping for. But there is financial help available to support growth - if you know where to look.
The East Sussex Invest Fund (ESI) was established in 2013 by East Sussex County Council, supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), and is delivered by the County Council in partnership with Locate East Sussex. The fund offers grants and loans for capital investment to stimulate business growth and job creation in the county.
The fund offers loans from £10,000 to £200,000, and grants from £10,000 to £25,000, with a requirement of match-funding of 50% for loans and 60% for grants. This funding is available for a wide range of industries, specifically to help with capital expenditure. The expenditure must be to help businesses grow by investment in premise upgrades or equipment purchases which result in the creation of jobs for the county.
Now in its ninth year, the ESI fund has supported 247 businesses to access over £4.5 million in loans and £4.4 million in grants, and a cash injection of over £9 million, resulting in the creation of 1,065 jobs. Applications are assessed by an independent Grants & Loans panel who make a recommendation of funding to the Director or Communities, Environment and Transport. The recommendation is made on the basis
of viability and job creation prospects. All applicants are supported through the process by the team at Locate
The fund has had a huge impact on the business community, and Locate East Sussex has been delighted to be able to facilitate the growth of businesses such as;
Focus SB, Hastings
Focus SB was awarded a £42,000 loan, and a £15,000 grant to purchase tooling to design a new range specifically for China. This resulted in the company becoming the first European manufacturer in its industry to gain CQC factory accreditation to supply and sell wiring accessories directly from Europe to China - as well as creating new jobs.
To The Rise Bakery, Eastbourne
As a start-up growing quickly, To The Rise needed equipment and some alterations to their new premises in order to make it work for the company. Locate East Sussex helped it successfully apply for a £10,000 grant to upgrade its oven from one that could bake nine loaves at a time, to a professional-grade machine that could bake 60, improving their productivity by over 500%!
With Locate East Sussex’s support, owner Jens was able to secure a £25,000 ESI loan, of which £10,000 will convert to a grant when the jobs promised are created. This funding will support the expansion of the Hastings-based factory, purchasing machinery for creating and packaging the tubes of chocolate flakes for home consumption.
Ordinary Climbers, Polegate
Ordinary Climbers was awarded a £57,500 loan through the fund, to finance the acquisition of high quality climbing wall components for its new indoor leisure climbing wall business.
Beak Brewery, Lewes
Funding through the ESI programme helped Beak Brewery to hire three employees from the start, future-proof the business with a 22-hectolitre brew kit and fit out the premises to precise specifications, including a new mezzanine level, cold storage, a grain auger, and a spacious taproom.
Other funding opportunities
Stalled Sites Fund
The Stalled Sites Fund is an East Sussex County Council one-off capital fund designed to help finance feasibility studies and business case development to support schemes that are not viable without public support. It is also there to unlock stalled employment and housing sites that have site-specific reasons for remaining undeveloped with loan or equity share finance. Funding of up to £25,000 for feasibility studies and business cases is available requiring a minimum of 50% match-funding.
The eighth iteration of the fund ‘East Sussex Invest 8’ will be announced soon with new criteria to support green growth. Locate East Sussex and East Sussex County Council are here to help you realise your business potential and achieve your growth goals. It all starts with a conversation, so drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 0300 343 5749 and see how we can help you.