A business support programme in Barnsley has helped create more than 400 jobs in the borough since its launch in spring 2012.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is expected to generate 550 jobs by June 2015, but has already led to 402 new posts – well ahead of its target. It has also helped safeguard 111 jobs.
Funded by European money, the programme works by offering free coaching to eligible businesses. Since the launch of phase two of the programme in April 2012 279 companies have been supported; nearly half of them have created new jobs.
Among them is VC Electronics, which manufactures circuit boards for anything from cars and boats to street lights and tracking devices.
The company has taken over part of a former rival firm and has taken on ten of its staff, as well as a further five people, at its factory in Goldthorpe, bringing the total number of staff to 33.
Pat Cummins, managing director, said: “Enterprising Barnsley’s support has been invaluable. I have been in business for 15 years and during that time I have been approached by a lot of organisations that say they can help, but so often you get nothing out of it.
“There has been very little that has really worked until I came across Enterprising Barnsley. Their help is really practical and not just ticking boxes.”
The work of Enterprising Barnsley phase two, builds on the success of phase one, which ran between 2009 and 2012. Phase one supported the creation of 630 new jobs and the protection of 397 posts.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and Barnsley Development Agency (BDA). BDA is the economic development team at Barnsley Council.
It is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
Businesses eligible for support under the ERDF-funded programme must have growth potential and be in one of the following sectors: advanced manufacturing and materials, creative and digital industries, food and drink, bioscience, environmental technologies, sports, the investor economy, social enterprise and sustainable development.
Specialist business coaching is available in areas including marketing, finance, leadership, IT and branding. Enterprising Barnsley also funds the SmartStart programme of workshops for people thinking of setting up their own business and the Genesis programme of intensive business support for new businesses.
Other businesses that have been supported by phase two include HMA Digital Marketing, based in Barnsley town centre, which has gone from 12 employees to 19 in one year. Constructional Timber, which designs, manufactures and installs engineered timber frames, beams and other fixtures, has added three new staff at its premises at Carlton Industrial Estate, and GB Cullet glass recycling, of Wombwell, has recruited seven new members of staff in the past few months, taking the workforce up to 20.
Councillor Roy Miller, Barnsley Council’s cabinet spokesperson for development, environment and culture, said: “This shows that with the right support businesses can survive and even thrive in tough economic times.
“The fact that businesses in Barnsley have created more than 400 since April last year is testament to not just Enterprising Barnsley, but also the initiative and hard-working attitude of people in the borough.”