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£7.8m boost for Merseyside enterprises

8 February 2012
photo of workers clearing snow

Snow business: workers from Liverpool social enterprise INES clearing snow

A consortium set up to boost social enterprises in Liverpool has won a £7.8m vote of confidence.

The seven-strong bid team will use £3.9m European Regional Development Fund cash and their own match funding to help local small and medium enterprises compete with big businesses for contracts.

The investment, which will focus on areas such as business growth, productivity and franchise will create jobs and support growth at a time when many of Merseyside’s small businesses and enterprises are struggling in a difficult economic environment.

The consortium is led by Alt Valley Community Trust and includes delivery partners Plus Dane, Blue Orchid, Wirral Biz, Inclusive Access, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Muslim Enterprise Development Service.

Phil Knibb, executive director at Alt Valley Community Trust, said: ‘This is a golden opportunity to promote business growth to small and medium enterprises in the Merseyside area. It is a great partnership approach and I am looking forward to working alongside all our partners to make a real difference in these challenging economic times.’

Gerard Murden, managing director for Plus Dane Group, said: ‘Liverpool’s social enterprises plough their profits back into their communities, creating jobs and training opportunities for local people, so it is vital that they get all the support they need to continue that work and expand.’

Network for Europe, a support group which helps voluntary and community organisations gain access to European fund programmes and who played a key role in the successful bid, were also celebrating.

Chief executive Andy Churchill said: ‘Starting with nine possible projects at the end of 2010, we encouraged applicants to work together to create one single partnership bid, supporting businesses in the worst-off areas of Merseyside. Now that the bid is approved, its time to get out and put European money to work on the ground, supporting local businesses.’

The enterprises that will benefit will typically include firms that reinvest profits back into their workforce or neighbourhoods.

One of the first firms hoping to gain from the consortium’s approach will be IN Environmental Services (INES), a cleaning and greening service based in Dingle which offers long-term unemployed people the chance to learn a trade.

All participating enterprises will be offered a business support package that is tailored to individual need in order to sustain, maintain, or revive their business.

There will also be a demand-led offer of business advice/services to target barriers to growth experienced by small and medium enterprises based in and from disadvantaged communities, including the offer of specialist services to black, minority and ethnic groups, people with disabilities and from economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods.