Express & Star Green Shoots Plus Business Fund Provides 600-Job Boost to West Midlands

Business owners have revealed how more than 600 jobs have been created and protected thanks to £4 million of grants obtained through the Express & Star.

Sixty-five businesses across the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire received grants of up to £150,000 through Green Shoots Plus to go towards projects to help them grow.

In total £4.1m was awarded, creating 411 jobs and protecting 203 others, as well as generating a huge £13.4m in private sector investment into the regional economy.

The funding is provided by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and distributed through the Express & Star, the University of Wolverhampton and a panel of business experts.

The fund is aimed at businesses working in advanced manufacturing, building technologies, transport technologies, including aerospace, environmental technologies or business to business services, such as accountancy, design and print, electrical, advertising or marketing.

Applicants needed to have been turned down by their banks for the required funding and not to have had more than £175,000 in public funding in the past three years.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The Express & Star and its partners should be congratulated for what has clearly been a highly successful programme.

“Of course, the jobs created, the businesses helped and the investment driven from Green Shoots is to be welcomed.

“But I am particularly impressed with the way a high-profile media outlet with such great reach into the community and one of our region’s great universities worked together to deliver great results.”

Chris Leggett, marketing and communications director for Express & Star publisher the Midland News Association, sat on the funding decision panel.

He said: “As the leading publisher for the region, we are pleased to have helped increase business development and employment through the Green Shoots partnership.

“Many of the businesses only became aware of the Green Shoots funding opportunity through our titles, showing the value of newspapers in improving local life.

“It was fascinating to meet the grant recipients and see the progress they have made through investment.

“Green Shoots will have a proud legacy of growing business success stories, changing lives for the better.”