The latest Black Country Transformational GOLD programme has been completed, giving grants to support 130 Black Country businesses.
The scheme aimed to make a positive economic impact in the Black Country by boosting the competitiveness of SMEs in advanced manufacturing, business services, building technologies, environmental technologies and transport technologies.
It offered successful applicants access to grants of between £1,500 and £50,000 to support their growth plans.
BCT GOLD was administered by Wolverhampton City Council, with Dudley Council, Sandwell Council, Walsall Council and the City of Wolverhampton as acting partners, and additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Thanks to 130 businesses successfully going through BCT GOLD, 153 full time (or equivalent) jobs have been created in the region and eighteen new products or services have been brought to market.
Projects realised for businesses as a result of the funding include improved digital technology (such as apps, digital event management, online payment facilities and websites) and the purchase of new equipment.
Thirty-two businesses in Sandwell benefited from this round of BCT GOLD.
Howells Glazing of Cradley Heath is a bespoke manufacturer and installer of aluminium roof glazing products, such as rooflights, glazed canopies and patent glazing. Tracey Jackson, the company’s business development manager, said: “Black Country Transformational GOLD was pivotal in helping Howells increase our efficiency across the whole company.”
Tracey explained how the grant provided funds for a new computer server and back-up systems. It also allowed Howells to purchase a new racking system, allowing for better stock management, and new and improved extraction systems for the company’s circular saws.
“This was in line with our commitment to health and safety, and better working practices”, she said.
Sandwell manufacturing company Keight’s Precision Tooling also benefited from BCT GOLD. Director Nicholas Keight told us how the funding – applied for with support from Sandwell Council – enabled Keight’s to buy an electrical discharging machine.
“This has been a huge benefit to us, helping us to keep up to date with technology and lower our carbon footprint. Without the help offered we would have found it difficult to achieve this outcome,” he said.
Emma Robinson, digital marketing executive at Latham’s Security Doorsets in Tividale, told us what the funding meant to her team:
“The Black Country Transformational GOLD grant gave us the opportunity to offer an enhanced service to our customers by purchasing a brand new key cutting machine. Through having the functionality to offer additional or replacement keys, we can extend the customer journey with Latham’s and offer an increased level of customer service,” said Emma.
“The key cutting machine has also allowed us to expand the offering of our sister company Latham’s Hardware which has also seen significant development in recent months, with the opening of a new onsite shop and introduction of new team members.”
Other Sandwell businesses awarded BCT GOLD funding included West Bromwich-based Ian Smith Group, which purchased an embroidery machine, and A1 Powder Coaters, which purchased a metal forming roller machine. The grant enabled Allied International Trading in Smethwick to develop e-commerce websites for its Supertouch brand.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a follow-up questionnaire sent to BCT GOLD recipients received overwhelmingly positive answers, with 100 per cent of respondents saying they would recommend the funding programme to other businesses.
Congratulations to all the companies who benefited from BCT GOLD, and thank you to those involved in leading the programme. If your Black Country business has plans to grow and needs funding to get lift-off, keep an eye on our access to finance page which we update regularly.