An £800,000 Sheffield Council scheme to boost private business in the city has been hailed a success for creating 24 jobs, helping 90 businesses grow and boosting exports to 17 countries.
The Keep Sheffield Working Fund has also attracted a claimed £2.1m of match funding from partners and businesses in the 18 months since it was launched.
Now the authority is set to spend a further £200,000 to keep the scheme going until December 2015. A report recommending the move goes to cabinet on April 16.
It says that so far the fund has:
Ploughed £740,000 into supporting business growth, creating 24 jobs with a total of 86 forecast by the end of the scheme.
Helped 12 companies extend trade relationships to 17 countries.
Helped six people go self-employed - with 51 pending.
In total, the fund has paid for six projects: a self-employment scheme, a graduate internship scheme - RISE - an SME loan fund, a rapid growth scheme, an export project and ‘Summer Saturdays’ events to promote the city centre.
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, skills and economy at Sheffield City Council said: “The programme is all about focusing on short term growth initiatives that deliver a longer term impact - in short, helping to create jobs and growth in our area. We have invested in things that will build a stronger economy, support businesses to grow and expand into new markets and remove barriers to work.”
The self-employed scheme is run by SENTA - part of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.
Richard Wright, executive director of the Chamber, said: “We are, and will continue to be, working hard with the council on this programme because we absolutely understand the need to get people working, particularly the young ones.
“At national level the British Chamber of Commerce lobbied the Chancellor to put more resources into getting young people back into work at the recent Budget, so we applaud Sheffield City Council’s efforts locally.
“The real solution will need all parties to bring their skills to the table. The local authority has excellent programme management skills but the private sector knows how to make money and create wealth. We need a bigger focus on the wealth creation projects in this city and region, but we will certainly do our part.”
Audio products company Wilson Benesch took on two design engineer graduate interns under the RISE scheme and made them permanent.
Director Christina Milnes said they had planned to take on one - but after interviews hired two.
She said: “RISE offered us the flexibility to give a graduate an opportunity and really see how they settled into the team. But recruiting two has been hugely beneficial.”