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At a time of uncertainty, when we hear in the news that many businesses are delaying investment, it is reassuring to know that small and medium businesses in the Humber are making investments to grow and creating jobs.

In some part this is thanks to the availability of Growing the Humber, a £4m grant programme using money secured by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

The £4m programme continues the success of a £30m Regional Growth Fund programme which ran up to 2015, supported 226 businesses and will have created almost 2000 jobs.

Since April last year the programme has offered business investment grants of between £5,000 and £200,000 to 75 small and medium enterprises and is now fully committed. It was anticipated that 275 jobs would be created as a result of this funding but we are expecting to exceed that target, with beneficiary businesses aiming to create 400 jobs for the area.

I am proud to have been directly involved in supporting the businesses. I chair the Humber LEP’s Investment Panel of private sector business leaders which reviews applications for projects such as buying equipment or refurbishing premises.

Between us we have expertise in business management, finance, commercial law and property. We understand the challenges faced by businesses and try to be flexible, but fair in our approach.

Growing the Humber has been very successful in helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to make key investments that enable them to grow and employ more people. The Humber has some excellent businesses so it is gratifying that money from the Government’s Local Growth Fund has allowed us to support so many of them.

Being involved with the Humber LEP’s Investment Panel is very rewarding and distributing funding is a very tangible way of supporting local businesses. However, it is the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment of the businesses that apply for the funding that really drives forward this growth.

Steelridge Ltd is a Hull based manufacturer and supplier of complex fabrications. The business received a grant of £38,400 to invest in two new machines to enable Steelridge Ltd to become more competitive. The project will create five new jobs within a year of the investment and it is expected that a further 10 jobs will be created in future years.

Another manufacturing business driving forward plans for growth is Sherwood Plastic Products. The Goole business manufactures tamper evident security seals for a number of well-known high street clothing retailers.

In order to achieve full growth potential, the business needed to extend the premises, install some new equipment and reconfigure the space. A grant of just over £32,000 enabled the company to make the investment with confidence.

An unexpected benefit of the investment is that one person who had been long-term unemployed has been helped back into sustainable employment through the job opportunities created.

Many of the supported businesses reflect the abundance of high quality manufacturing and engineering enterprises in the Humber, however there is also a growing digital sector which has been recognised in a TechNation report.

C4DI (The Centre for Digital Innovation) is a membership organisation that helps start-up digital businesses to grow, and established digital businesses to innovate by using technology more effectively.

The organisation recently moved into a bespoke, flagship building that forms part of a larger development scheme in the regeneration area between the River Hull and Queen Street in Hull. With resources stretched, a grant of approximately £80,000 met the gap in funding to enable the organization to fit out the premises.

The project creates 4 direct jobs but the nature of the organisation means that the member businesses will also grow as a result.

With the available funding fully allocated, Growing the Humber is now closed to new applications. However, we know that there is appetite amongst Humber businesses to continue making key investments.

The Humber LEP is hoping to secure further funding that will allow Growing the Humber to reopen next year and would be happy to hear from businesses that might be interested in future funding.

For more information about the Humber LEP’s funding programmes, businesses can contact the Humber LEP on 01482 485260 or email

David Kilburn, Chair Investment Panel

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David Kilburn
David Kilburn

Local entrepreneur David is Founder and Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies, the UK’s largest independently owned builder’s merchant’s chain. MKM has had 16 years of uninterrupted growth under David's direction and business intuition. MKM has been voted by it's peers "The Best Independent Merchant Of The Year” for 5 out of the last 7 years and David was named Ernst And Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in the North. David has first-hand knowledge of business start ups which include business planning, funding, IT Infrastructure and Business Development which is benefiting the region through his role in For Entrepreneurs Only and Young Enterprise.