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New £9.5m fund to boost exporting and jobs in Greater Manchester

A new multi-million pound fund launched to help businesses in Greater Manchester increase their export sales has the potential to create or safeguard over 1,000 jobs, according to one chief exec.

The £9.5m Greater Manchester Export Fund will offer targeted grants and short-term loans to enable the area’s enterprises to become more globally competitive.

The new funding, secured after the Manchester Growth Company made a bid to the Regional Growth Fund, will be delivered by Business Growth Hub, Business Finance Solutions and UK Trade & Investment.

Of the £9.5m total, at least £2.5m will be used for loans of up to £500k for businesses to secure export orders. This element will be managed by Business Finance Solutions.

Meanwhile, Business Growth Hub will manage a £7m chunk of the funding that will provide grants to support SMEs with up to 20% of the total cost of projects designed to boost export growth, which could include buying new machinery, refurbishing premises or research and development.

The Manchester Growth Company’s chief executive, Mark Hughes, said: “I am delighted that the Manchester Growth Company has been successful in securing £9.5m of Regional Growth Funding which will be used to provide an innovative approach to grant and loan finance for companies in Greater Manchester who wish to grow their business by gaining access to international markets.

“The Greater Manchester Export Fund will transform the availability of growth funding and export finance to allow firms to achieve their potential, supporting the businesses on which Greater Manchester’s economic future rests.”

He added: “The scheme will directly create and safeguard over 1,000 jobs and will help to drive competitiveness, contributing to the UK target of achieving £1tn in exports by 2020.”

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead on internationalisation and marketing, Cllr Richard Farnell, commented: “Greater Manchester has a long and proud tradition of manufacturing and exporting some of the best products in the world.

“This new fund is designed to support the next generation of businesses who need an extra investment in machinery, expertise or research to enable them to build or grow their export orders.”

Speaking further, Cllr Farnell said the fund will provide “a huge boost” for businesses in the area that may have previously been held back by a lack of funding.

He continued: “Accessing funds quickly when an opportunity arises is key to building a profitable export market and if traditional financial providers can’t help, we can step in to provide the short-term loans a business may need.

“Programmes like the Export Fund are vital in creating jobs, stability and diversity in the region’s businesses and we want businesses to get in touch now to find out just how we can support their export ambitions.”

Similarly, the UKTI’s regional director for the North West, Clive Drinkwater, hailed the fund as “excellent news” for the Greater Manchester business community.

He said: “At UKTI our mission is to turn the UK into the world’s greatest exporting nation and we want to empower north west companies to go out and succeed in global markets. I’d like to encourage businesses across the region to think big, and contact the Manchester Growth Company in order to access funding.

“UKTI will then be on hand to support companies every step of the way in their export journey.”

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