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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Cumbrian grants mean £2.9m projects and 34 jobs

Three firms in Penrith are among the latest to benefit from an £8.5 million fund to help Cumbrian businesses grow.

Ast Signs photo
Ast Signs is improving its capacity and building a new headquarters

Ast Signs, Traybakes and Trade Copiers will share grants of more than £600,000 triggering a £2.89m investment that will create 34 jobs and safeguard another 17.

The money comes from a pot that Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) secured from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to target manufacturers and exporters.

Businesses that go direct to the national RGF must apply for at least £1m, ruling out the vast majority of smaller Cumbrian businesses.

But the LEP can offer grants as low as £10,000, which typically cover between 10 and 40 per cent of the total cost of a project that creates or safeguards jobs.

Ast Signs has received three grants under the scheme. The company, based at East Lakes Business Park, Penrith, specialises in fleet graphics.

It received £61,397 last year towards a £153,800 scheme at its site at Clay Flatts Industrial Estate, Workington, allowing it to manufacture vehicle-wrapping kits. This created two jobs and safeguarded another four.

It has now secured two further grants – £53,200 towards the £266,000 cost of a new HP Latex 3000 printer, which has twice the capacity of its existing machines, and £300,000 to go towards a new £1.5m, purpose-built HQ on Eden Business Park, Penrith, which will allow for expansion. The printer will enable six jobs to be created, and the HQ 10.

Work on the new building is due to start this month and it should be ready by the end of the year.

Commercial director Adam Wellings praised Cumbria Business Growth Hub and Cumbria County Council for helping Ast secure the investment.

He said: “They have been fantastic in supporting us. The Growth Hub has helped us with professional support around strategic marketing and provided expert consultancy on building design.”

Meanwhile, Trade Copiers, at Gilwilly Industrial Estate, receives £180,000 towards a £915,000 investment in developing a new unit to allow the business to grow further.

The firm, set up in 2002, specialises in the refurbishment of previously-leased photocopiers. Seventy per cent are exported. The investment should create 12 jobs and safeguard another 13.

And Traybakes has received £24,000 towards a £60,000 investment in equipment, and to develop brand design and technical assistance, creating four jobs.

The business – founded in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, in 1990 – moved to Redhills, Penrith, a year ago.

It specialises in small batches of traybakes, made from traditional recipes, sold through cafes, delis and farm shops. It recently began exporting to Scandinavia and hopes to secure orders in Germany and Ireland.

Managing director Justine Carruthers said the investment would not have happened without the grant.

She added: “Securing the RGF funding has offered us a route to realise opportunities and growth potential that had previously been identified, but was simply beyond our resources.”

These latest grants dovetail neatly with the LEP’s new Strategic Economic Plan, which singles out manufacturers and the M6 corridor as key drivers of growth in Cumbria.

The LEP is keen for more businesses to apply to its RGF fund. Grants awarded must be spent by March 2015.

Jackie Arnold, chairwoman of the LEP’s investment panel, said: “The successful projects that have come forward reflect the strength of Cumbria’s manufacturing sector and our growing success in exporting.

“We’re delighted to have been able to support these businesses with their growth plans.

“These investments are already having real impact on the businesses implementing them and on Cumbria’s economy in terms of jobs and added value.

“With the programme approaching its end, I’d encourage anyone who thinks they may have a project to get in touch and discuss the potential opportunities before it’s too late.”

The LEP is working alongside Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and CN Group, publisher of The Cumberland News, which is media partner for the RGF grant scheme.

To contact a Growth Hub adviser about making a bid, email info@cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk, call 0844 257 84 50 or visit www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk.

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