Budding entrepreneurs in Rotherham – including those affected by restructuring at Tata Steel – are being urged to apply for £1,000 grants after UK Steel Enterprise created a £40,000 charity pot.
The Kickstart Fund aims to support people looking to establish a business by helping with initial costs – especially those with limited funds.
Tata Steel is making 490 redundancies in the borough due to competition from cheap Chinese imports and high energy prices and green taxes hitting domestic suppliers. Grants worth up to £1,000 and advice are available.
The money is from the part of Tata Steel which invests in companies and communities in steel regions to help them grow and create jobs. Jessica Long, founder of Rotherham dance academy JL Dance, received support from UK Steel Enterprise and Rotherham Youth Enterprise when she launched her business.
She used the funds to pay for advertising in the local paper and on Facebook, as well as printing and distributing flyers. The academy has more than 150 students.
Jessica, aged 19, said: “I always knew that I wanted to run my own business, and I was confident that I could make the dance academy a success with the right advice and support behind me.
“Receiving the money and advice in 2014 meant I was able to really raise awareness of the business in the early days and I saw an immediate return on investment. Now I conduct dozens of classes every week and employ three assistants to help me.”
The new Kickstart Fund offers financial and business advice support through Rotherham Investment and Development Office and Rotherham Youth Enterprise, as well as the UK Steel Enterprise team.
Keith Williams, regional manager for UK Steel Enterprise, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, but starting a business is a big challenge.
“This funding, as well as the support and advice provided alongside it, will help those budding entrepreneurs who need an extra boost to get the ball rolling.”
The company has also committed additional support to help existing companies in the region to grow, and can provide investment finance of up to £1m, as well as loans up to £100,000.
The leader of Rotherham Council, Coun Chris Read, said: “I hope that many people – including those affected by recent events at Tata Steel – will now be given the incentive to consider setting up on their own.”