"The Small Equipment Grant has had a fabulous impact on our business."
A Herefordshire company which specialises in high-quality dog food and treats is expanding after buying new equipment thanks to help from a grants programme supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.
Finer by Nature says it hopes to take on two new members of staff as it expands its in-house manufacturing operation thanks to the £7,834 award from the Small Equipment Grant programme.
The company, which is based on Whitestone Business Park in Hereford, has used the grant to help it buy a variety of equipment needed to produce a new range of dried treats, including a sausage-based product, meat shapes and biscuit-based treats.
The grant scheme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Marches Growth Hub, is part of a £3million funding package which also includes the Marches Building Investment Grant.
Finer by Nature – which was established in September 2013 by Gary Pitchford and Theresa Stearman and employs nine people – has diversified into production in reaction to the UK’s exit from the European Union and says it already has orders of £60,000 for the new treats.
Gary Pitchford said: “The Small Equipment Grant has had a fabulous impact on our business.
“This latest grant, together with earlier European growth funding we also received, has helped drive growth and we have doubled our workforce as a result.”
The grant has helped the company buy a bowl cutter to make meat emulsion for sausage, a boiler to speed up the drying process, vibratory table to aid packing, meat forming machine to make the meat shapes and automated weigher to help speed up packing.
Programme manager Caroline Cattle said the grant to Finer by Nature showed how the programme could help companies across the Marches realise their ambitions for growth.
“The new machinery is vital to the company’s plans to expand its own production capacity and help it diversify. It will bring new jobs and further growth in the future which is good for the whole regional economy.
“The Small Equipment Grant can help a whole range of companies to purchase the machinery they need to grow and we would urge any business in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin which meets the criteria to investigate how it can help them.”
Grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 are available under the programme, which is open to small and medium-sized companies across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
The grant is available as a contribution of up to 50 per cent and primarily covers B2B companies. Items purchased must exceed £500 in value and have a life expectancy of three years. Eligible projects must lead to the creation of at least one part-time job within six months or the creation of a new product or service to be used by other businesses.
Because of restrictions imposed by the ERDF, the scheme is not available to retail businesses, restaurants, drinking establishments and fast food takeaways, online retail or rental businesses, farms involved in primary production, or local social welfare facilities.
Details of the scheme are available through the Marches Growth Hub.
The Marches Growth Hub Herefordshire can be contacted at email@example.com
The Marches Growth Hub Shropshire can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Marches Growth Hub Telford & Wrekin can be contacted at email@example.com
Herefordshire Council is the accountable body for the scheme. Full details are available from the programme team on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01432 261511.