£200k fund to offer firms a cash lifeline
BUSINESSES which have struggled to get cash from banks could benefit from a new £200,000 loan fund.
Sums of between £10,000 and £50,000 will be available through the scheme, which has been christened the Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund.
Money will only be available to 'viable' firms based in the city which have already been turned down by mainstream lenders.
The scheme has been launched by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and not-for-profit lender Black Country Reinvestment Society (BCRS).
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, said: "We are delighted to be able to support such a scheme.
"This loan fund is all about providing Stoke-on-Trent's business talent with the support it needs."
The Sentinel reported in January that the council was weighing up the idea of a loans scheme to support businesses.
Initially £200,000 will be available but a BCRS spokesman said the fund could be extended in the future.
BCRS, which is based in Wolverhampton, manages a similar scheme for Staffordshire County Council but on a much bigger scale.
The Staffordshire Business Support Fund has helped 60 businesses since it was set up in October 2009, creating or safeguarding almost 200 jobs.
To date, £2 million has been made available and The Sentinel reported in March that a further £2 million was to be pumped in by the county council and the European Regional Development Fund.
BCRS chief executive Paul Kalinauckas said: "This fund will certainly help Stoke-on-Trent develop, grow and prosper.
"Small businesses are under the radar when it comes to access to finance, which is holding back their growth prospects.
"It is an exciting time to find new and innovative ways of non-bank lending and we are looking forward to providing local people with job opportunities and creating wealth in the Stoke-on-Trent area."
Andy Donaldson is sales director at Fenton engineering firm Technical Solutions 24 Seven, which employs around 20 people at its Oldfield Business Park base.
He said he believed the fund could be useful for firms which have been turned down for a loan from their banks.
He said: "In a small way I think it could be helpful.
"I understand why they think it is necessary because in a lot of cases approaching the banks, financial institutions and Government quangos is a complete waste of time.
"We have got to remember that small to medium-sized companies are the spine of this country and without us pushing along and growing, the whole economy will just fall apart."
Any Stoke-on-Trent firm interested in applying for a loan should contact the BCRS on 0845 313 8410 or visit www.bcrs.org.uk.